Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Friends and a Movie

I went to see It's Complicated the other night with a couple of friends. It's a film by Nancy Meyers about a divorced couple (he's remarried; she's not), who end up having an affair so they can both resolve loose ends in their relationship (they had been married divorced for 10 years, married for 20). It was a comedy, kind of. And although I hate that Nancy Meyer's characters are always over the top, unrealistic wealthy, she does hit on life themes that transcend the socio-economic barrier.

The part that hit me the most was at the end when the three grown kids find out about the affair. Two of them were 12, 13 when the divorce happened. And the kids talk about how they really don't have any memories of when their parents were married. They remember the stories that were told and the pictures that were taken, but they can't remember the "original family" sitting down to dinner or getting tucked in. They remember living with Mom, and that was okay, because she was good.

In my child psych book last semester, they talked a bit about divorce during early adolescence, and how difficult it is and some of the coping mechanisms that kids can use to deal with the pain. It turns out that when my parents separated when I was 12, I implemented a few of those coping mechanisms. One of the mechanisms was being around other families that weren't separated and had a positive mother/father relationship (and those of us who have parents who chose to stay together that probably shouldn't have know that this is a hard role model to find).

My role model was right across the street, and I spent a fair amount of time at their house between the ages of 12 and 16. I babysat their two boys who were 3 and 5 years younger than me. I ate dinner at their house. I spent the night having sleep overs. I dog sat when they went on vacation. We played HORSE at the basketball hoop. We road bikes. My neighbor called me and invited me places, including trips to some random drive-in ice cream and burger place they used to frequent. It felt like I had two little brothers, and Lorane and Jim rocked at listening, checking in with me and making me feel like I wasn't alone during a time when I felt both of my parents had kind of checked out. Mostly, they made me feel welcome into their home at any time. It was an important experience for me.

Yesterday, I learned that Jim passed away on Sunday at age 61. I'm not ready for my friends' parents to start dying. We lost enough friends' parents when I was in high school and college -- abnormally early. But I still think 60 is way too young.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The House that Loosey Built

In August 2007, we moved into our current house. We spent 4 1/2 months planning and building the house -- something we've never done before. And there are some things we learned afterwards to keep in mind if we ever do any kind of building project again. None of them were huge complaints, but one of the decisions I decided to make was to put laminate flooring in X-man's room. It was a brilliant idea. You might think it's great for building track and running cars over, but really my excitement is that when he gets the stomach flu and vomits -- it's really easy to clean up.

I also made the entire first floor primarily wood and tile with only the family room being carpeted, because let's face it, I like soft carpet on my feet. But I also knew that with a house with plenty of animals and a toddler, the carpet wasn't going to last long. I thought long and hard about it and decided that the warmth under my feet was worth it being gross and needing it to be changed out every five years -- because knowing the carpet would take a beating -- I bought mediocre carpeting with a mediocre padding.

Well, this is where I learned a lesson. It's not gonna make it to five years. At a little over 2 years, I'm already disgusted by it. Even with cleanings every six months, the family room takes a beating. My kid spills things. My cats vomit. My husband cannot remember to take is frakking shoes off to save his life. The same thing goes for the stairs and foyer in the upstairs hallway.

Tonight X-man found a bottle of nail polish and painted his toes in the hallway while MacTroll was getting ready for his man date and I was putting away laundry. Bright red paint on the hallway carpet. And just so you know, if you talk sternly to my child in a disappointed tone -- he instantly processes the guilty feeling in his gut as hunger and asks for food. Funny (but mostly sad) how that's already engrained in his head, huh? Tell me that's not biological, because I've never used food as a reward with him.

So, next time... double hung windows in all the rooms, area rugs that can be cleaned and swapped or just trashed while we're the animal house, a driveway that extends straight out and doesn't bend and buy blinds up front, because we're apparently too lazy to put them in now. :-)

MacTroll spent 20 minutes working with the Kleenrite solution and got most of it off the carpet. I spent 20 minutes with toenail polish remover getting it off of most of X-man's foot, arms and hands.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Today, 3/4 of the Illinois Marathon Relay Team and I decided that running outdoors in 5 inches of snow was not our style. Instead, we took Special K to breakfast at Le Peep. I was one of the first cars to leave my subdivision and plow through the blanket of snow that quieted Savoy. Then it was great to sit down with a cup of tea and some fruit and yogurt and chat for an hour.

When I got home, I started cooking a beef stew for lunch. Then while it was cooking for 2 hours, X-man, MacTroll and I headed out to begin the snow removal process. X-man and I had shovels. MacTroll had our electric snowthrower.

Once X-man and I finished the front walk, we made snow angels and threw snow at Riley (who goes bonkers in it) and then we pulled out the sled and took a very long walk around the neighborhood. Of course, halfway around, X-man started crying that his gloves were wet and his hands were cold. But, of course, he wouldn't wear mine. Then when I convinced him that we'd be home soon, I got 1/2 way down the next street on the return trip only to have him start crying as the wind pelted him in the face with large flakes of snow.

"Mommy, go home. I need to warm up!"

Yeah, um, that's where we were going.

Inside, MacTroll devoured the stew (minus the mushrooms). X-man wouldn't touch it. He's more of a fruit and bread guy rather than a meat and potato kid. Now I'm about to get ready to head to the rec center for a run while the boys play the Wii.

But really, I just want to put my head down and nap. It's that kind of afternoon. :-)

A Wii 47, a mouse's ass and a giant grocery bill

MacTroll got the family a Wii for Christmas. He picked up the sports edition and then went out tonight with X-man and found an I Spy game. I'm pretty sure the boys played it the entire time I cleaned out the fridge, put the dishes away, ate my dinner (I do not suggest the 200 calorie DiGiorno's -- they're tiny and stupid. I finished off a trial pizza to get it out of my fridge.), cleaned out X-man's toy bin, took the garbage out, did the laundry, went grocery shopping, put away the groceries and checked my e-mail. Then after X-man was asleep we did the Fit portion of the Sports section... MacTroll got a 36 (he's 34) -- and I got a 47 (I'm 33). The whole time we're playing we can hear Luke wrestling with a mouse. By the time we checked on him, Maya was in on the action. And, um, when she's hungry -- she eats them. Apparently, she was famished. So, MacTroll ended up cleaning some blood and a mouse butt and tail up off the floor tonight.

KTDID, MacTroll and I had cleared our refrigerator of all the "old food" before Christmas. It was crazy leftover week that whole week, pretty much. So, we were out of everything. I tried not to have a heart attack when I paid for the total. It was laundry detergent, a few things of meat, LOTS of fresh fruits and vegetables for the garden lasagna I'm making tomorrow night. Even with sales and coupons, it was still cringe worthy.

I didn't get to run on Christmas Eve day due to the ice storm hitting Rockford. But I did do 3 miles on Christmas Day. One of the miles was more like ice skating around Anna Page Park. Then today, when we got back home, MacTroll dropped me off at the Savoy Rec Center and I decided to music intervals for 60 minutes. It felt nice to just move that long. It feels nice to get to the end of 60 minutes and know you could go longer. Sure, it's not the fastest way to move, but I've never been very great at being competitive, even with myself.

The holiday went okay. I hadn't been home on Christmas Day in 3 years, so it'd been a while since anyone had seen or talked to me outside of my immediate family. I'm not a big group person. I do much better in small groups. Being around 21 people on Christmas Day completely wore me out. And I didn't really talk to most of them. I was either with X-man (who was also overwhelmed) or I was talking with my Mom or trying to help Barbara with the clean up.

I did avoid the dessert table, minus 3 turtles that I ate, which is good because there were 6 different kinds of dessert! I avoided the stuffing. One third of my plate was green salad, the other third was a vegetable mix. I had around 3 oz of white meat turkey (no gravy), one whole wheat roll and about 1/4 cup of roasted potatoes with mushrooms and brie. My appetizers included 8 - 1/2 oz shrimp, 3 black olives, 2 small rye breadsticks, 4 almonds, 2 cashews, 2 diet cokes and a Fiber One bar (to keep from snacking -- supposedly).

I know what I ate, but I haven't added up the calorie estimate. I'm pretty sure, it's going to be way too much for any running I do to make Monday's weigh in a success. I feel like where I was last week -- kind of stuck in a maze. I think I know the way out and then I turn a corner and am at the beginning of the maze again.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Packing

I'm staring at the closet wondering what to wear to Christmas. I have to pack for myself and X-man today. Then I need to load up the car with the overnight bags and presents. But I'm not in the mood. I think it's the weather. Waking up to a cold rain, a sore lower back and wobbly knees made me decide that after yesterday's reintroduction to swimming, I needed a break today. But it also means that I'll need to exercise for 45 minutes both tomorrow and Friday.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. MacTroll and I will be spending Dec. 30-Jan 2. in Chicago as a couple. So think good thoughts for my Dad while he and Barbara have X-man for 3 1/2 days. X-man is just a giant ball of emotions these days. So we'll see how they all fair.

As for me, I better get to it. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wonderful Weather

Like many of the people I know, we're driving to spend the holiday at relatives. And the Weather Channel is creating a lot of panic regarding some ugly freezing rain that Mother Nature is apparently sending our way in the next few days. And I know that if it's too dangerous to leave, we'll be staying here, but I also know that the Weather Channel is rarely timely about when things will happen.

Mostly, since I'm leaving on Thursday, I'm hoping whatever ugliness happens occurs tonight so it can be salted and cleaned up by the time I leave on the 24th. This, of course, helps no one who is leaving tomorrow. I also hope that those that are already on the road going longer distances than my short 3-hour trek to Rockyford are able to travel safely throughout their journey.

I know I have no control over weather (although from time to time X-man orders me to make it stop raining or to warm it up or cool the weather down). Instead, I'm concentrating on the feeling that's just now coming over me. I was afraid it would never get here. The wonder and kindness of Christmas. The enjoyment of those I love. The pleasure of spending time with them. I also find it awesome that MacTroll will have NO work to do between Christmas Eve and Jan. 3. We've missed him around here. And we're happy to finally get to spend some time together.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Motivation

I keep thinking about what a spoiled woman I am. How I keep working at self improvement trying to become a better woman, better friend, better lover, better student, better mother... I know that other people face much steeper hills to climb. They were not born with the same advantages that I was. And yet, often times, I still feel like I'm about to drown, like I'm coughing up water and worn out. Worse yet, I feel all alone.

Then something good happens. And I recognize it as a positive, but the brilliance of it is dimmed by my doubt, worry and my lack of self esteem. How can I possibly be the bad ass they say I am when I feel so small and fragile? How can I project that persona when all I feel is a void?

I lower my eyes so I don't do that wicked thing -- comparing. I lower my eyes so I don't have to engage. I sit in the shadow of those who recognize the brightness of their own lights because I am happy that they glow. They're warm and encouraging people to be around.

But most of the time, I don't feel like I have that glow inside. Most of the time, I feel like a big fraud. Most of the time, I understand that the only thing holding me together is the wee bad ass Looseyfur, deep inside, shouting at the top of her lungs that she exists, like some kind of Who from Whoville.

She is part of my brain. She is my favorite part of me. She knows she's not perfect, but she understands herself and others for who they really are. And for her, I will endure and fight and adapt. For her voice raises me in the morning and comforts me at night. She is the necessary spark that will light my flame.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The vocabulary is growin'

X-man's usual learning curve on words has reached a new level. He now wants to put random words and sounds together to be funny. He's also obsessed with words about pottying.

Yesterday at the library, we ran into one of his friends from school. Turtle E was lying down on the puppet theater at the Champaign Public Library. X-man noticed him, ran up, kissed him on forehead and said, "How's it goin' Butthead?"

My head sunk into my hand, and I hoped Turtle E's grandmother and brother couldn't determine what he said. I tried not to over react and give the word power. If he knows I don't want him to say it, he's so much more likely to use it. Because clearly he showed great affection for Turtle E. I think he just thought it was a funny word to say.

Then today in the car on the way to Target, X-man dropped his sticky fruit roll-up (last time I buy those) on his coat. "Oh crap!" He used it appropriately, but when I asked him why he said it, he couldn't really figure out an answer. I guess it just comes naturally.

So, if your ears are a bit sensitive to certain words, you may want to steer clear of X-man for a while. Because I literally have no idea what he's going to say. I can promise you that we're trying to teach him not to use words toward people in a hateful way. No name calling out of anger, fear or bullying. I think here -- he actually meant Butthead as a pet name.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recovery

36 hours after I started taking the z pack, I feel almost downright human again -- just in time for the weekend!

I knew I was feeling better when I went to an appointment today and was eavesdropping on a woman trying to convey the top 4 reasons why she should change from a hospitality degree at Parkland to becoming a registered dietician. It was fascinating, until she repeated her argument a third time and the man she was with still just looked at her like she hadn't said anything at all.

My favorite was where she talked about how a lot of the courses for hospitality crossed over with the dietician ones. (She listed gen ed requirements like a math and an English 101.) Then she said she thought she'd be able to handle the math in the sciences now as an adult so much better than she could in high school.

That statement hit on a fantasy of mine. I hated math in high school. A long time ago, I thought it might actually be fun to start in a basic algebra class (like the one I took in 8th grade and got a B and then retook in 9th grade after 8 weeks of getting a D in College algebra -- got an A in regular Algebra -- and two years later still got a D in College Algebra).

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start over again and just work my way through Algebra, Geometry, College Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, etc. Just to see that I can do it. Kind of like losing the weight, it would be proof that I could do something that I thought I'd never be able to do.

And if I could do it -- giant confidence boost.

Of course, I'm not sure where she got her info that it would only take 4 more courses from her hospitality degree to become a registered dietician and that she'd make $90k... I'm sure my health educator at Carle would be completely stoked if she could make $90k as a nutritionist in this area -- and she has a master's degree.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holy sore throat, Batman!

Last night, I had a hard time falling asleep. X-man was out by 9 p.m. And I sat in bed forever not able to sleep. I ended up watching "Up Close and Personal" over Youtube... so you know it was bad. I finally fell asleep a little before 1 a.m.

At 2 a.m., the dog got me up to go outside.

At 3 a.m., I woke up to pain in my throat. It is pretty common since I've had a lot of post nasal drip lately. Except the pain was way worse than normal. My mouth felt a lot more dry. When I went to get a drink of water I found that my throat felt so swollen that I couldn't swallow. Interesting.

At 4 a.m., Riley got me up to go out again. (Not sure what his issue was.)

At 5 a.m., X-man came in my room and snuggled up.

At 5:30 a.m., X-man and Riley had a bed sharing issue.

At 6 a.m., my throat was still a mess, so I called into work sick.

At 8:45 a.m., I dropped X-man off at school and went to Convenient Care. I was still having a lot of pain and a hard time swallowing.

At 9:15 a.m., the CC doctor sat in front of me doing his one-man, fill-the-time-until-the-rapid-test-results-come-back show. For the record, he thought it was just irritation from my cold and wanted me to take some ibuprofen rather than Tylenol. The results came and -- Strep throat.

So, I picked up my Z-pack, came home, rescheduled some appointments and am sitting in bed. I'm eyeing books, but I think instead I'm going to watch movies. I'm eyeing Varsity Blues (who doesn't love a good football movie?), Love Actually (it's a feel good movie) or Grosse Pointe Blank (come on a hitman goes to his high school reunion -- priceless).

Or I could just rewatch all of Firefly. It's been a while since I've seen it. Maybe since I was pregnant with X-man...

Of course as I type this, I'm sitting cross-legged in bed with my laptop in front of me. Nyssa is lying in my lap and across my right forearm. Clawdio is lying up my left knee with one arm on my left elbow and his head resting on my left forearm. Riley is just beyond the laptop... So no stretching any appendages for the time being.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Variety is the spice of -- something

I've been cooking meals at least 4 nights a week since August. I started this cooking fascination around 6 weeks before I entered into maintenance with my weight management program. So, I'd make a dinner, plate it and then cook my HMR meals for me and sit down and eat with the family.

Once I was able to start eating real food at the end of September, I continued with the cooking. Usually it's 4 new meals and then 2 nights of leftover and a night where either KTDID or MacTroll are in charge of dinner. It's been pretty awesome. I post the recipes I make (and like) to my Facebook account, so others might be interested in trying them.

But I have to admit, even though I've given a fair to super yummy rating on all the low-calorie meals I've made so far, my search for good low-calorie baking recipe has come to an end. Everything I make I end up throwing away, not just because it's clear that baking is a GIANT trigger for crappy eating (hand to mouth, hand to mouth) but because I feel pretty --meh-- about the things I'm eating. I'd rather eat something good once a month than have something mediocre every night of the week.

KTDID pointed out to me the other night that I've only made one recipe twice in the last 4 months. And she's right. I keep finding new things to try, new tastes to discover. I feel like Remy the rat on Ratatouille. I find it fun, particularly since I never have to do my own dishes, now.)

Now that the weather is turning (blah to the 6 degree morning last Thursday), I've also been seeking out other high intensity workouts. Last Thursday I did my first cycling class at the gym. It was fun. I'm hoping to go back this week. I also tried a Body Blast class today (first half is cardio, second half is weight training with low weights at a lot of reps). They were both very fun and different. But mostly, I was surprised to find that I wasn't afraid to go into either of them and announce myself as a newbie. I also felt pretty good when I finished them.

I'm getting closer and closer and closer to my next impedance test to see where my body fat percentage lies. I'm curious to see what it says.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cultural Groups Based on Body Size

The second item I've been turning over in my mind is related to how there appears to be a cultural divide between those that are small and those that are large.

Being a woman who used to think about pointing her car at skinny runners on the street who were all perky and perfect at 6 a.m. running while I endured an hour-long commute into the city for work... I'll be honest. I thought I was part of the "out" crowd as an obese person. I just figured it was because I hated the fact that they figured out how to work exercise into their schedule and I didn't. I was angry that they were pointing out something I couldn't find in myself and, on those really shitty weather days, I just thought they were plain crazy or vain.

Funny, now that I'm on the flip side, I still completely understand the drive to run over the perkily fit, even as I start to get used to the idea that most people consider me one of them. It's like seeing a broader picture and knowing that I've played several different roles. I was never lazy while I was obese. I just channeled my energy and time into different things. Now, the food planning and exercise comes first for me. But I am still just me -- the same person I was before.

So I don't know how to respond when suddenly someone I don't really know includes me in a skinny girl conversation. Nor do I know what to do when suddenly I realize I've been ousted from the phat girl conversation. I don't want to be part of the skinny girl club. I don't know that jargon. I'm much more of a phat girl at heart trapped in a smaller body.

The other day I actually ran into someone from my past who has similar weight issues as me. And when her brain processed who I was, I swear she tried to take flight in any direction to avoid me. And it hurt my feelings. Even though I thought I understood why she felt that way. It still sucked. I don't know where I fit. I don't like the different way people look at me. I don't like that even though I'm relatively controlled about what I consume and how I exercise, people assume that I'm some kind of food or fitness nazi.

I actually feel quite alone, like now I don't belong anywhere. Unless there's a formerly phat women's group out there?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thoughts about Bigness

I'm carrying a slew of thoughts around in my head this week regarding size. So, you may read about a lot of them in the coming days.

Right now I'm focused on physicality. Tomorrow, I've made an appointment to go in and get my right lower back/hip/buttocks checked out. I've had issues there since I was 16 and injured the muscles in a soccer game (I used to play keeper for anyone who didn't know me then). I ended up tearing a number of muscles, which brought my soccer career to a temporary hold and earned me months of physical therapy. I could stand or I could lie down comfortably. Moving my leg to sit down or drive was terribly painful. I ended up taking my ACT standing up in the back of the cafeteria and standing through 6 hours of class each day. The x-rays the orthopedic surgeon took then said that nothing was broken, it was all muscular. But over the years, it's continued to give me problems. Of course, when I'd have issues and see a doctor (3 of them in the past 10 years), they'd always tell me that the problem was muscular (no x-rays were taken or actual tests given at these other appointments) and that if I'd lose 50 lbs the problem was likely to go away. Then they'd prescribe muscle relaxants and vicodin, tell me to rest for a couple of days and then start an walking program and watch what I ate. (But no actual guidance on how to do either.)

The same thing happened when I injured my IT bands training for a marathon in 2001 (my attempt to try to be more active). I strained them running on concrete during the practice marathon (I finished 23 of 26.2 miles before calling MacTroll, who rushed me home to ice them and then basically had to half carry me to the doctor's office the next morning, where I was given another 3 months of PT). That therapist said I was restricted to running 5k or less and gave me a list of stretches to do.

Before I got pregnant, I noticed my left foot hurt below the pinky toe. It made, what we referred to in yoga classes, "crunchies" whenever the foot was massaged or turned a certain way. So, I went to a podiatrist who told me that my obesity was causing tendonitis in my left foot and that I would need to wear comfortable shoes (as the inserts he built didn't help) and lose 50 lbs. in order to fix it.

Mmmm, do you see a magic number here?

So now I've lost over 83 lbs, and guess what? Both the areas are still tender. I'm guessing 50 lbs wasn't the magic number, and I'm feeling kind of angry at myself and at those doctors for just dismissing the problems as "just" being obesity related. Now that I'm older, and more familiar with my body, I'm better prepared to be my own advocate. Before, when they dismissed me because of my weight, I would get down on myself and beat myself up about how I was breaking myself for food, and I learned not to complain about them again, even though they still bothered me.

Here's hoping I can come to some kind of diagnosis and solution for both problems. They've both been managed through massage when the pain starts to peak. But massage always tends to only be a short-term solution. I don't want to just take ibuprofen for the pain. I want to know what's wrong and what I can do fix whatever is damaged in those areas through PT or personal training or pilates or yoga or whatever.

I need some answers. Is it just me? Or has anyone else ever felt like their physical complaints were just swept under the rug by the medical community because of their weight?

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Balancing Act

Yesterday I woke up ready to run... in my brain. I also woke up with a dry mouth, sore throat and nasty cough from postnasal drip. I decided to let my body rest a bit... so instead I cooked, baked and cleaned from 7 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Then I had some CARE friends over to bake (holy cow they are awesome bakers and decorators). We do this at the holidays and then combine all of our cookies for teacher/neighbor gifts, etc. It's also a really nice way to spend the afternoon.

I stepped on the scale yesterday after a hard food week. I hate out three times (which is really hard to track). The worst was when I took MacTroll out for his Christmas gift on Friday night.

We drove down to Effingham and ate at the Firefly Grill and then went to the (now deceased) Rosebud Theatre to see Lewis Black. It was the first time in many months that I ate with my gut (literally) rather than my brain. And I felt pretty terrible about the whole thing. So when I stepped on my scale I was not surprised that the number went up instead of down. One week out of four in maintenance goes this way. It's an indication of my slowing fall. And, of course, it keeps me hovering in the low to mid 160's just slightly above the normal BMI of 159. So each time it happens, I get my brain and butt in gear and regroup. Then I have three good weeks. The crappy week always seems to follow a hormonal surge that drives the food cravings -- go figure.

But it's annoying. The scale stuff. The cold. The fact that I won't meet my calories burned goal, but will meet my 40 runs in 8 weeks goal. The fact that I went to bed last night at 6:30 p.m. absolutely exhausted, woke up at 7 a.m. this a.m. and still felt -- bleh.

And then there's the fact that one part of me wants to crawl back in bed this a.m. and the other part really wants to go to the gym and do a Body Blast class for the first time. But I also know I have to do my last Child Psych online test and work on my paper for class.

Now if only my child would eat his breakfast. Because that's the first challenge today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

DOH!

So, I registered for the Jingle Bell 5k on Sunday. And I wrote down that it's at 10 a.m. But it's at 2 p.m. At 2 p.m., I'll be sitting on my sofa with a bunch of girl friends baking cookies at my house, and, um, although I want to see how my 5k time has improved in a race environment (I had planned to run it doing Serena Williams' speed work out just to see what happens.), it now occurs to me that I don't have to do that. Instead, I could just run a 5k anywhere and see if my time improves. :-)

So, I'll be getting up to run a 5k on Sunday morning. Just me, by myself. I'm going to do it over at the Robeson Meadows West Park where the CU on the Trails 5k was. Special K and I ran there today and the course was still marked on the sidewalk. Sooo, my goal is to run it faster than 32:44. And I'm happy that the arthritis folks will benefit from my donation and race registration. :-)

But I'm not giving up cookie baking with my girls for anything. Even if I'm gong to pre-bake mine so we all have something to snack on -- so I can just sit on the couch and socialize.

P.S. This is the second time in the last 3 weeks I've messed up on days and times. It's nothing that's dire. (I still pick up my kid on time and drop him off on time.) But it does make me wonder if I'm overbooking myself, or if I'm losing my short term memory. We all know I'm insane, but usually I'm pretty punctual. I mean at least 80 percent of the time... unless my kid won't get in the car, or there's a train or I have a flat tire.

Tonight I'm skipping the downtown parade festivities and taking MacTroll out for his Christmas present. We're having a date night, but it's kind of a surprise, so I'll blog about it tomorrow. :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Does someone have the keys to these cuffs?

From the moment he woke up this morning X-man has been all over me: Literally. He couldn't separate from me in the a.m. so I could make his breakfast. Every 3 seconds was "Mom!" with a list of crazy demands. He refused to take no for an answer, and when I gave him the silent treatment he just started screaming his demands louder. Talking only got him upset and hitting or making a fist and shaking it at me. Hugs got screams of "Let go of me!" or "You're hurting me! I'm bleeding now! I'm calling the police!" Time outs only got fits of outrageous violence.

Finally, I threw my hands up, wrestled him into some clothes after breakfast, distracted him with a toy to get him to the car, buckled him in and dropped him off at the Tiger room thankful that for the next six hours he'd be in their care, which was going to be about a zillion times healthier and more sane than if we were together all day.

I went walking with LibbyGirl and Thunder McGavin, which always helps me feel better, but didn't clear my head. I ate my lunch in silence thinking about this attachment thing. You fight tooth and nail to make sure your child knows you're there for him, but then you walk the balance of making sure he knows that you're not about to be his servant. It's funny, at 18 months, he was all Mr. Independent, I'll do it myself. Now at 3 1/2 he's all sit on the couch and issue unmet demands.

We made some house rules over the weekend. We all got to contribute to the list of 8. I started since it was my idea. And the most important rule I could think of was to be respectful and polite. X-man's most important rule was not to play with matches. MacTroll's was to be careful with electronics (?-- yes, I'm serious).

When I picked X-man up, it was a similar thing. He hadn't napped today and his teachers warned me that he was in a pretty raw emotional state all afternoon. And it was obvious he was shaken up. He couldn't clearly communicate in the fact that one minute he wanted something and the next he didn't. He was giddy over the idea of our meet up today and playing with friends and making animal cracker trains -- until the friends got there, and then he only wanted to play with me.

I put him in the tub at 7:20 p.m. It took me 20 minutes to get him upstairs and in a state where he could stop screaming in my face about still wanting to eat dinner (he sat at the table for an hour... he consumed 1/2 and then stopped and kept playing with it). Now he's in there ordering around the Wiggles and Toy Story characters. I'll fish him out at 8 p.m. and hope he goes down by 8:20 p.m. Because, boy howdy (as MacTroll would say), does he need some sleep.

I'm working tomorrow at Mother's Morning Out. They're apparently separating from First Presbyterian and moving buildings! My aunt got a note in the mail from the church the other day, but I'll find out more about that tomorrow. I have to be there at 8:15 a.m., so X-man is going to have a long day at Next Generation, since I also have to do a LONG run in the afternoon to try and keep up my calorie goal. I'm closing in, but it's going to be rough. And then I won't do another calorie challenge until the spring. Instead, I'm going to insert some swimming during lunch time or evenings next semester over at the Urbana Aquatic Center. A little high cardio/non impact should do my body good.

Monday, November 30, 2009

And as a side entry

Seriously, does anyone else get shivers when they see "CU" (denoting Champaign-Urbana) followed by a word that starts with "M?"

There used to be a Yahoo free stuff exchange group that a fellow parent started back in 2006 called CUMoney Savvy Mommies (or something very close). It was particularly useful when I emptied my house of baby items into hands of other people who needed them.

But every time my husband saw the URL he'd shake his head and abbreviate it to a much dirtier name.

Are we the only ones with our heads in the gutter? Or has anyone else wondered if such groups are inadvertently banned in places where the Internet is filtered for porn?

I am a Poser Canadian

Okay, everyone knows I have a distinct love for Canada. If given the chance to travel just about anywhere and have free time -- I pick Canada. I don't care if it's cold or hot or if no one I know lives in a particular city. I'm not picky. And Customs and Immigration acknowledges their appreciation of my purchasing power and loyalty every time I cross over.

Once upon a time, I dreamed of living in the Eastern Townships and raising a bilingual baby. Oh, I miss those days. Then it turned into a dream to own a vacation home there and spend 6 weeks every summer in Quebec the way my grandparents spent the summers in Ontario on Lake Erie in Rondeau Provincial Park.

Then I learned from folks that I rented cottages from... and friends who actually own cottages... that they're kind of a big hassle and they sound like a great idea, but really it's just a second home to take care of, heat and fix up. Clearly, I have enough trouble doing any of that to my current home. So, I said... "Mmmm, probably better to just rent from other people."

But it looks like I might get to Canada a total of 4 times in 2010. That's right 4 times. I hope to visit Dri and Ian of the North late winter this year in Toronto. Then apparently there might be a trip for MacTroll back up to the area where X-man and I might tag along. I will return in August to dutifully try my best at a mini triathlon, and I hope to be running a 10k at Parc Fontaine on the Plateau in Montreal on Oct. 17th...

So, um, I better get out and do my run, because that's a serious number of Butter Tart trips up north!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Good Mom Days

Today, X-man and I enjoyed a day to ourselves. It started with breakfast at Le Peep at 8:30 a.m. A kid's pancake sandwich for him and a breakfast banana split (yogurt, fruit and a sprinkle of granola) for me. Then we went grocery shopping for a few things and ran into one of my classmates. She hasn't been in class for a while because one of her friends, Holly Cassano, was murdered a few weeks ago in Mahomet. She was at work. I sent her some info on our last assignment today. But mostly, I felt pretty terrible. I know if one of my friends was killed, I'd probably want to curl up with my baby for a good long time, too.

After shopping, X-man played playdough while I sorted through a mountain of laundry that MacTroll managed to bring downstairs and then just dump next to the washing machine. I don't normally do his laundry -- it annoys me how many clothes he has. Seriously. It's a stupid amount of clothes. When my hamper is full I know I'm about out of socks and underwear and I have no clean running gear left. When his are full, it means -- nothing. So he keeps piling crap on top of them. I keep wondering at what point I'm allowed to just go in and start retiring things. Sigh.

After the laundry, I helped clean up playdough and X-man and I played some games together. Then we had lunch and got ready to go to the pool, where we met up with the wilier parts of the Freak family and Libbygirl's crew. After an hour, my lips were blue, so we packed it in for home. This afternoon was spent watching TV (How It's Made and Handy Manny), me feeding my child 1/4 bag of Pirate Booty and playing his version of "games" over and over again. Then he pulled out my favorite toy, the Lego trucks, and we were skateboarders on our way to a competition.

Dinner was easy, talking him upstairs into the bath was easy. I'm hoping him falling asleep after all the activity today is also easy. Because the truth is that I'm tired today. It's been a long weekend, and I've been getting pretty crappy sleep for some reason.

So, wish me sweet dreams tonight. I've got to get the nipper up early to take him for a check up at the dentist... He loves Dr. Rose, so this should be okay, as long as I can get him there on time for the 8:30 a.m. appointment.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Grazing like a freaking cow

So yesterday was leftover day. We ate leftovers for lunch and dinner. But we also grazed all day, which is never good. I wrote everything down, but it was a pretty yucky number of calories by the time it was calculated. I felt better after I ran, but even with the 500 calories I burned, the number was 400 more calories than it should have been.

Today has been way more controlled. I planned out the day and the calories like I usually do. I don't know why I didn't do it on Friday. Probably because I was focused on getting through Thursday (which I did fine).

Today, it's 12:30 p.m. and I'm still in my pajamas. I was hoping MacTroll would get X-man to the store by 10:30 a.m., but no such luck. Only one of them is dressed. So I guess we won't get to the Bob the Builder store AND the Tolono library today. Oh well.

I'm about to go upstairs and change into some clothes. In 30 minutes I'm going out for a 75-minute run. My goal is to try and break 7 miles. (I've gotten within .03 miles.) My last 5k of 2009 is next weekend. And then I'm going to have to focus on longer distances for the relay run in May. I've got a list of runs in the area, and some out of the area for me to focus on. I also picked up a real swim suit from Body N Sole yesterday, so I can start swimming laps at lunch time at the Urbana Aquatic Center next semester, in order to start training for the mini tri in the Toronto Islands August 14-15.

Deep breath... Taking the next step, and the training calendar (so far) of races might look something like this in 2010:

Groundhog (7-mile) -- Zionsville, IN -- Feb. 7
Penguin in the Park in Decatur (5k)-- March
Lake Sara Dam Run in Effingham (8 miles) -- April
Bricks to Bricks in Indianapolis (10 miles)-- April
Illinois Marathon Relay (10k) -- May 1
Mini -Tri Champaign -- August
Toronto Island Mini Tri (400 m swim, 12k bike, 2.5k run)-- August 14/15
Parc Fontaine Classic in Montreal (10k) -- Oct. 17
Half Marathon in Montreal or Vancouver (13.1 miles)-- Spring 2011

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Day of Friends

This morning I woke up in a particularly ugly mood. I had trouble sleeping last night, and I wanted to get up and do the Turkey Trot in Urbana. It's a 1-mile fun run/walk for the family. I wanted to do the event -- as a family.

But in the middle of last night I kind of got kicked out of my own bed by my boys (who are all bed hogs) and I ended up in X-man's bed. The alarm went off at 7 a.m. and MacTroll wandered into X-man's room. I was aware he was in there, but all he did was crawl into the bed, pull the covers up and fall back asleep. Some time later I woke up with a start, ran into our room and saw that it was 7:53. I was supposed to meet Libbygirl and her family at 8:30 a.m. Both boys were still sleeping and there was no way they'd be up and dressed and ready in 15 minutes. So, I got dressed and went by myself. It was uber crowded for a cold, rainy Thanksgiving morning. I saw one of the ladies from my weight management class there. But it was crazy.

Libbygirl showed up with her family and we all lined up at the start. I ran with Lightning McColin the whole way. He did the whole mile running except for about 30 seconds -- three 10-second segments where he said, "But if I walk I won't win!" and started up again.

Afterwards, I went home to start working on the turkey. It was a little nutty for a while, but I felt better once the sucker got into the oven. Then I went on a long run, came home and continued to set up for the 11 people that were coming to dinner. I ended up in the shower and dressed about the time that Libbygirl showed up with her family. A little bit before 4 p.m., Quigs walked in with her family, and we ate around 4:15 p.m.

It really is lovely getting together with nice people. And it was very enjoyable to have my sister and her friend, my mom and my friends all in my house. And we had enough low calorie, gluten free, dairy free and "loaded" to go around.

Now it's 8:30 p.m. and I'm exhausted. I'm seriously thinking about putting on my pajamas and going to bed. Tomorrow we're headed out to Karen's Kloset, Ten Thousand Villages and Body N Sole to do some shopping. I've got to do another 45-minute run. I'm hoping to do it at Meadowbrook, and we'll arrange to see our friends Mitra and JF from Montreal at her parents' house in Urbana. It was a lovely, full day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Running for the Calories

At the beginning of October I set three goals with the Nike Plus running page.

1. Run 40 times in the next 8 weeks (5x a week) (by Dec. 8)
2. Run 5 runs by 11/27 at less than a 10:15 mile average.
3. Burn 20,000 calories in 8 weeks (by Dec. 8)

Well, I'm on track to meet the first goal. I met the second goal... but I'm lagging by 1500 calories in the third goal. I might be closer if the Nike plus measured other things besides running (like when I walk the dog or do the stairmaster at the gym or clean my house) but I knew when I signed up for the challenge that I needed to hit 400 calories per run five times a week. And I haven't done that because my short runs (2-3 miles) only burn 200-300 calories. And I know I run short runs more often because of life's time limitations.

In order to hit that goal -- I'm going to have to burn around 470 calories in running every day from now until Dec. 8. That's at least 50 minutes of interval running EVERY DAY. Think I can do it?

Wanna make a bet? I need some motivation...

Today I ran for an hour and 8 minutes and burned almost 800 calories, so I made up a little bit there. But I need some inspiration. Anybody out there want to be my cheerleader or running partner?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Illinois Marathon 2010

So today I registered myself and three friends to complete the Illinois Marathon as a relay team on May 1. We're splitting the marathon up into 4 chunks (between 6 and 7 miles each) to make it a bit more manageable. I'm excited about the idea of being able to run a 10k (which is further evidence of my insanity).

You might see part of my team out running on the weekends. My "Friends to the Finish" as we're registered include Quigs and Special K and Special K's sister the Marvelous M from Michigan.

If you'd like to get out and cheer us on, mark the date on your calendars. :-)

Christmas in a Recession

I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday. Yesterday, I went shopping for a couple hours in downtown Champaign. I usually do a bulk of shopping there for my family, but this year I struck out. Nothing seemed to stand out to me. I got a few things, sure. But for me to walk out of Ten Thousand Villages with just one photo frame is unheard of.

My next stop was Wind, Water and Light. I love that store. I always find some quirky piece of jewelry or hand made paper journal or a print that stands out to me. I did find two things I loved, but both were significantly out of my price range. Big sigh. I hated leaving there empty handed because I don't get to go in very often since it's not a place I can take X-man. (Bull in china shop concept.)

I visited Carrie's and found some vintage Superhero posters that were framed that I liked... but I wasn't there to buy for X-man. As it is both his Christmas and birthday have been taken care of.

My last stop was to B.Lime where I found some small gifts for my parents, who are usually the folks I buy for when I shop downtown. Since I didn't find anything stellar, I reverted to a plan B for them for Christmas. But in a crap economy, I really wanted to do more to support the stores I love downtown. I like that they sell unique gifts made by local artists or fair trade artists or they sell items that are environmentally friendly.

I know normal people are just beginning to do their shopping this weekend. But I wondered if anyone else has been having issues with selection? Nothing stands out to me any more as "buy me." Is this an outcome of not having much money to spend or of not being able to find exactly what we're looking for? I love buying gifts for others, so I swear my lackluster experience wasn't from not feeling the holiday spirit.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Anxious... for results

I'm about to leave to run a 5k in Mahomet to benefit the library there. Last year 167 runners turned out. And from the results they were really really fast (like under 25 minutes). I am not that fast. But it's a lovely and sunny morning, so I'm just going to go and enjoy my run and my new playlist of music that is mostly infused with songs from the Glee soundtrack. I wish I could sleep past 7 a.m. again. I miss it. Even when I'm away, my body still wakes up at that time. Stupid inner alarm clock.

Update: results are in. I ran in a 31:44. About 11 seconds faster than the Rattlesnake Master. There were some hills though. And I ended up having some fans... my JV soccer coach and his family (who were the kind of family friends we spent New Year's and holidays with when I was a toddler). :-) It was awesome to run into them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why is Good Stuff so Hard to Believe?

I've been paid a lot of compliments this week. Most of them made by people who see me on an irregular basis. One of the guys who started with me in the Carle Weight Management Program moved to my Monday Maintenance class the other day. We sat together. And I missed him. It was nice to see someone who had started when I had. Because the program is made up of people with varying needs... some people finish the 12-week CORE class, meet their goal and then go to maintenance... 10 months later, it's highly probable that a person who only had a few pounds to lose is no longer with the program at all. Those of us with many pounds to lose went from the 12-week CORE class, to a continuing weight loss class and then to maintenance, where we still are losing -- albeit more slowly -- as we reintroduce non-meal supplement food into our diets. B has lost 135 lbs since Feb. 5. He looks amazing. His family members are now all trying to take part in the protein shakes to fill up on low-calorie, high-volume foods to follow his lead. He works out every day, sometimes twice a day (ahhhh, retirement) at the Savoy Recreation Center. He plays with is grandkids. He is awesome.

When the ladies in my class asked him what kept him going so long on the shake/entree only program (the most restrictive) his reply was Amy. Amy is our health educator. She's a nutritionist. And she is an absolute doll. She's supportive and strict all at the same time. She's a success story of the program, too. And she is someone who can really relate to the challenge. Somehow, in the last 10 months, she's taught me to do what I need to do to get where I want to be and then not to beat myself up when the scale doesn't go my way. And for that, I will be forever thankful to her. It is a journey. One I'll be on my whole life. Ignoring my weight problem and food problems or putting them at the bottom of my priorities kept my self esteem low, which is why I'm having freakouts every week about how people respond to me differently out in the world.

On Sunday, I got leered at by two businessmen outside of the W.

Today at the dentist, my favorite office personnel person said she hardly recognized me. Bev, one of the dental hygenists saw my name on the schedule and came in to say hello. But didn't think it was me in the chair. Susan, my hygenist, gushed over my success.

I was never good at direct attention. It was a positive side to the obesity. It was like you were the elephant in the room that no one truly saw. Now that I'm not, I'm noticing myself being more attracted to the people who treat me the same. Because I gotta tell you, not everyone is. It's harder for me to sit down at a table with people and suddenly become aware that they're staring at what I'm eating, how much I'm eating, etc. We had a mom's night out at Old Chicago the other night and I was so happy to be there with supportive friends who didn't give a shit that I had a black and tan (my first beer in months) and then I ordered a little big cookie. I was good with it, so they were good with it.

Sometimes, though, I sit with people who eat their food at a meal and constantly apologize for the food choice they made. Sometimes they say it to the waiter or the guy behind the cash register. Sometimes they say it directly to me. Like now that I'm smaller, I'm staring at them and judging them for what they put in their mouth. And I know they're uncomfortable, and now I'm uncomfortable. Because truthfully, I'm not paying attention to what they're eating. I'm only concerned with watching myself. But when I was heavier, it wasn't part of the dinner conversation. And now not only do people notice me more, which I hate, they seem to be looking at me more critically -- or -- looking at themselves more critically, which I'm guessing makes me the worst dinner partner ever.

So, I'm very thankful today to the people who were sitting at my dinner table with me when I was 80 lbs heavier and loved me for who I am... and are able to continue to do so regardless of what pant size I am now or what pant size I may be in the future. Don't be surprised if you're invited to my table more often. I appreciate that you don't make my weight loss about you.

But I think I am going to go find someone to talk to about all this, because I'm not quite sure how to deal with it all. In my head, I'm just me. And even though I know the numbers are moving toward a normal BMI -- I don't feel different. I just feel like me. Like I'm still 246 lbs. To me - - that's normal.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sanctuary


So, on Tuesday I ran away from my life and went to Geneva, Illinois. It's a smallish town between Aurora and Elgin in the most western of Chicago suburbs. It's also much less massive and concrete. More quaint. More local.

I stayed at the Herrington Inn on the Fox River. I went to their spa and received a sugar and cinnamon scrub and a back facial. I woke up toward the end of the back facial drooling. Nice. Comfortable. Safe. It's funny because when I left, I felt like I didn't want any one around me for 24 hours. I was dreading the spa part. But I thought it might help me relax. Funny how one kind of touch can make your whole body stiff as a board and miserable and another kind of touch can completely reset you, calm you, center you.

I ate at Fox Fire restaurant. I shopped at the local organic food store for breakfast and snacks. I went into some gift stores. I reacquainted myself with some friendly characters in a novel I hadn't looked at in a year. It was lovely.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up in my giant, warm bed to the pitter patter of rain on the river at 7 a.m. I looked at weather.com -- 37 degrees and raining. "Bah! I don't want to run in this crap."

I am ever so tired of it being rainy and cold. Then I looked out my window... at the Fox River Valley path...

and I saw some crazy bastard out running across that little bridge to the left and onto the path in the park.

So I sighed, got dressed and went out and ran 5 1/2 miles. I came back looking like a wet cat. And for the second time this week, a hotel employee told me that I'm crazy for running in this weather.

They're right. I am insane.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Version of Happy, I Think

I remember thinking as a kid that there were certain things that would happen to you that would make you happy forever. The happily ever after kind of happy.

Then in the hormonal hysteria of adolescence I realized that happily ever after was a whole hell of a lot of bullshit.

By the time I got to college, I'd adjusted to, "I guess happy is just being okay with being alive."

I'm in this very philosophical state this week. I've been thinking a lot on runs about the state of my being. Areas I need to strengthen. Places that are still too bruised and too easy for people to poke at. In a lot of ways I feel very put together and in other ways I very much feel like a fraud.

In the end, as I'm sweating like crazy and out of breath, I think, "Well, at least I'm living my life. I'm not doing nothing." And then I thought, "What if this is doing nothing?"

I know when I read people's blogs about how grateful they are for what they have, they tend to list things related to love and security. The basic needs. But sometimes I feel separate from those things. Like I know I have them and they exist, but at the same time I feel like I'm in the Truman Show or something. Like it's a big act or a scam. Like at any moment those things can be ripped away, because that's the way life is. You get what you get. And you don't get mass amounts of control over how things play out.

If you are reading this and know me at all, you know I don't believe in any form of religion. I get that the world has a way it works on a spiritual level. There's an ebb and flow. I don't believe that there's a higher being with a plan, and through the years I've tried not to become so angry when people use those kinds of words to comfort others. The words are, admittedly, no comfort to me, in fact they have the opposite effect -- but I do sincerely accept and respect that they may very much be a comfort to others.

Charles Darwin pointed out that the species that survives the longest is not the smartest or the prettiest... and I'm pretty sure it's not the one that prays the most. Instead, it's the one that adapts. But what happens if you're a creature that adapts to the point of apathy. Do you become the Lazarus Long of the world ready to push your own suicide button after 2,000 years? Not that I am anything like him. Trust me, I love that character like crazy, and he's way smarter than me.

Sometimes I wish I had more answers. I always wish I had more patience. And I think back to the part of The Great Gatsby when Daisy said she hopes her daughter grows up to be a fool. And it sits in my head. How much happier would I be if I was more naive, if I was more Pollyanna, if I had lower expectations, if I just let it all go from my brain? Would that elation exist? Is ignorance bliss? Or is a consistent state of happiness or contentment just some kind of crazy dream (i.e. lie) in the first place?


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vacation spot chosen

Okay, so the winner of my little one-night hide-away is going to be Geneva, IL. Not to be confused with Lake Geneva (cause I'll admit I was -- but I got lost on a bike path today, so for those of you who think I'm smart... you'll need to reassess), and my apologies to the people of Geneva for not knowing about their little hideaway.

A lot of the places I looked into were too in the suburbs or judged a mite too far. (Galena was an excellent choice, but a bit far.) I've never been to Geneva. I guess Tom Hanks filmed Road to Perdition there... I found a small inn to stay in. There's also a local salon I may hit up tomorrow to see if they have any open appointments late on Tuesday for a haircut. I keep meaning to go, but it never gets to the top of my list. And the Fox River Valley trail is right there. So, pretty hair on Tuesday. Matted, sweaty hair before shower and check out on Wednesday. Plus, a stop over at Ikea on the way home in Bolingbrook... (Quigs, you want anything?)

As it is, MacTroll came home with some respiratory infection. He swears he's better than he was when he was in San Francisco, but it still sounds crappy to me. He's also refusing to go to Convenient Care or call our regular doctor.

So, yeah, I'm so getting out of dodge. Single parents -- how you do it without snapping in two I have no idea. I am humbled by your patience and fortitude.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crap, I'm one of those girls

So, MacTroll's current travel was him away last Saturday a.m. until late tomorrow night. X-man and I are driving up to Chicago to drive him home on Sunday from his mother's 70th birthday celebration. The child and I are hoping for clear skies so we can go to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I haven't been since high school, and X-man desperately needs some outdoor time. My sister is hoping to meet us there.

But my biggest excitement for Sunday didn't come from MacTroll rejoining our family (he's leaving again next Thursday for 48 hours). It came from the chance that I might have to run on the lake shore on Sunday morning!

I also made it clear that I was going to try to get out of dodge Tuesday and go somewhere. I'm currently looking at quaint Illinois tourism towns with inns and B&Bs with trails nearby... to run on. A running get away. How sad is that?

If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I'm not against driving up to 3 hours in any direction... big kudos if they're near an Ikea. :-) Aaah, I love Ikea.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Good Day

Today, I got to have a bit of fun. I dropped X-man off at school, went home and got some laundry chores out of the way and then drove to Monticello. I love Monticello. If someone told me I couldn't live within 5 miles of C-U, but had to stay in Central Illinois, I'd choose to live there. I love the old houses, the little square of town and its proximity to Allerton Park.

I drove out there because my massage therapist left her gig at a local salon a few weeks ago and reopened her practice out of her home. It was well worth the 20-minute drive. And Lorree Harty was very gracious, giving and kind, as always. I realized on the way home that besides my husband, she's the only person who has seen my body in various states since 2003. Obese, pregnant, post-partum, thin... today, she was so overwhelmed by my 82 lb weight loss that she hugged me. I'm not a giant hugger by nature. I get through it as quickly as possible with most people (but am happy that X-man inherited MacTroll's talent for good hugs). With Lorree, it was surprising, but affectionate. It was at that moment, that I realized me seeing her twice a year, wasn't just a treat for me, it was care provider relationship. If only massage therapy was covered by health insurance...

After my fabulous massage, I raced home and had lunch and then headed straight out to Art Mart. I'm having Thanksgiving at my house in a couple weeks and realized I had no serving utensils and lack in the measuring cup area. I found these cool blue serving spoons at Art Mart that I loved, so I decided to invest $20 or so in several for the big day. I also purchased a meat carving fork and a new set of measuring spoons and cups... that flip inside out. I thought they were interesting in design, but also dual purpose for a high-use kind of meal. When I got home and was cutting them out of the package, I realized they were made and distributed in Quebec. Ahhh, Quebec. How I cannot escape your style or brilliance.

When I got home, I really wanted to just sit on my butt. I had an afternoon snack and wrestled with running. It took about 5 minutes for me to convince myself to get it done and over with. I'm usually a morning workout person, but my assignment for class this week is to do it after lunch... so, I did the Serena Williams Interval Workout for 30 minutes. It's not as diabolical as the Spontaneous Speed Workout, but I think it's a mental thing. My run chart looks like I ran the whole sprint speed at the same pace as my warm up, but really when I was running it, it felt like I was running faster and harder. But maybe I was just taking longer strides or something... who knows. But after each 4-minute "hustle" I was so out of breath, I would have to walk for 2 minutes before going back to my warm up speed before she announced another speed interval.
30-minutes later, I was done. I showered and ran to get X-man and go to Quigs for a playdate.

Then tonight I made myself dinner. X-man ordered a "turkey sandwich with cheese and mustard, please" and the last of the milk in the house (with the last of the sugar-free chocolate sauce). He watched Dinosaur Train while I did some laundry and clean up, and then he didn't fight me when it was time to go to bath or to bed -- AND -- after him sleeping in my bed for the last five days because MacTroll is on travel (for 8 days this time), I somehow convinced him to fall asleep in his own bed. Sure, as soon as he's up for his middle of the night pee he'll be in my bed again, but this means I have around 3-4 hours of not having to get worried about getting kicked in the face.

And for that, I am extraordinarily appreciative. (Apparently, the cats are, too, because they're all laying around me purring and cuddling.)


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Electronic Communication

I love e-mail. I hate the phone. I get angry when I have to call and order a pizza or make a doctor's appointment. I have a blog. I'm a member of a hidden blog. I have a Facebook account. But really those communication tools are pretty egotistical. Mostly it's about keeping myself straight and feeding my stalker journalistic urges. I'm nosy. I admit it.

But you know what I do like, I do like picking up the phone (or, um, if you're lucky I hit buttons in my car now) and dialing up people to ask them how their day was and what is new. I know that I talk to the usual suspects online, but sometimes I miss things. Sometimes I don't see a feed. Sometimes I don't visit a blog for weeks, even though I've updated my status 14 times and my blog 3 times a week.

It's selfish. I know. But my attention span online is not very long. Usually because I'm visiting while I'm waiting for 13 other things to finish or with a child attached to my leg crying because I took away a toy he threw at me and put it up where he can't reach it, and I need a Mommy time out in my head.

As much as I love online communication and stalking the people I have positive memories and thoughts about, I'm not perfect. So, if something important happens in your life and you post it on Facebook or send me an e-mail and I don't respond. Please don't think me callus. I'm just on overload. Call me. Don't leave me a voicemail. Use that tone. You know the one. The one that tells you that something terrible has happened. When people use that tone and say, "Please call me back when you get this." People call. It's effective. And it's much more personal. People have the chance to sit down and ready themselves...

"I busted up my car today in the grocery store. I'm $30,000 in debt and I feel like laying down on the train tracks." -- CALL

"My mother just got diagnosed with breast cancer." -- CALL

"My child is driving me up the freaking wall." -- CALL

"I just won a million dollars from whomever got the job from Ed McMahon." -- CALL

"I'm pregnant -- oops!" -- CALL

"I'm pregnant -- finally!" -- CALL

"My computer died." -- Obviously a CALL

"I ran errands today and saw something I think X-man would like." -- a CALL would be pleasant but is not necessary... e-mail is okay here.

If you have any question as to whether or not the life changing event is important enough to make the call -- always err on being more personal. I think it helps. Because most good friends and family would rather hear good news from you before your 201 "friends" on Facebook or your 13,000 blog readers. Those status updates are often just noise -- not heartfelt communication.

It's become a big cultural problem. And I'm just saying -- I'd rather you reached out over the phone or in person than electronically about that kind of stuff. If it's too much, then I know where I rank, and that's okay. I can deal.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Road Trip to Rockford

On Saturday, I drove to Rockford to see my mom for her birthday. I arrived around lunch time and we had sandwiches and then went to work winterizing her yard. I raked 3 bags of leaves and pulled old plants out of the garden. Then I crawled under some spruce trees through pokey dead branches, pine cones and raccoon poop to cut some invasive bushes out from under the trees. I fixed a heated bird bath, relocated a stone one and then took Mom out to dinner.

She wanted to try Pho so we went to Pho Square a new carry out/dine in place on E. Riverside by the 50's Beef-a-Roo. It was pretty good. I had the chicken Pho for $6.85 a bowl, and we shared an order of spring rolls.

Last night I could hardly keep my eyes open. I went to bed at 9 p.m. and woke up at 8 a.m. It's the longest and best night of sleep I've had for a while. Riley wasn't curled up giving me lower back cramps. X-man wasn't kicking me all night or slapping me in the head as he rolled around. MacTroll wasn't snoring. I could shut the door and drift off to bed. It was lovely.

This morning I ate my cereal and took off for home. The new car drove wonderfully. I filled my gas tank for the first time. I found a gas station that sells the Kashi TLC bars (which I love). And I arrived home to a very happy X-man. He's currently watching Charlie Brown and eating popcorn and drinking diet A&W root beer.

At 4 p.m. we're going over to Special K. X-man will play with the Wonder Twins while K and I do a run. It's too beautiful not to spend part of today outdoors!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mothering FAIL

I barely avoided teaching X-man the sacred words, "You stupid mother..." when a girl driving a black Ford Escort went careening around the corner in front of the UI Ice arena onto a side road and almost hit a family crossing. The corner is not well lit, sure. But she had no turn signal on and was going way too fast and was not looking for pedestrians at all.

X-man repeated, "You stupid mother?" cause he hadn't heard it before. Then he asked what stupid meant. I said, "Not smart."

"Oh."

But he didn't say, "My mother isn't stupid!" Maybe because he knew I was by letting my disdain show like that.

Instead, he insisted that the police come and give her a ticket for going too fast.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A House of Colds

Both X-man and MacTroll have colds. X-man's is just a clear runny nose and some coughing at night, but no fever. Unfortunately, the coughing keeps him up a lot, so he can't sleep well and it makes him erupt into tantrums (not unlike his mother when she's sleep deprived).

MacTroll has chest congestion, headache and a low-grade fever off and on. He's upstairs sleeping in. I'm doing okay so far. No signs of a cold. I'm hoping the virus I had in early September was my bug -- and that I'll make it through for awhile. At least until the other two are better.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why, Today, I Dislike the State of Illinois

When I lived in Virginia and people asked me where I grew up, I'd answer Illinois with some kind of measure of pride in my voice. When running into a particular woman from New Jersey, her reply was, "That's one of those states I fly over to get to California, right?" Nice. Bitch.

Anyway, when I was in the D.C. area other midwesterners would find each other and it was like an island of family. In the lobby of my building once a woman walked up to me. She knew my name. She went to Millikin with me. She remembered that I was the editor of the school paper. I had no idea who she was, but she was temping in my building somewhere. The Vice President I reported to was from Illinois. He used to go to Rockford, my hometown, for swim meets. Now he's editor of the USA Today. There was a kind of pride of being midwestern. People found me pleasant, hard working, perky and easy to get along with (most of the time). I was timely and dedicated and loyal. I worked 60-hour work weeks and then gave another 20 hours a week to a service organization that was 20 miles away from where I lived and worked. But I had a hard time making friends that were more than just friends of proximity (work friends). In Illinois, I made connections that would last a lifetime, particularly when I was in college.

So, when we decided to move back here in 2003, I was overjoyed. And to a degree the high quality people haven't changed, except for one thing. I notice that more people are only worried about themselves and their families. If there was a tornado, I'm not sure people would run next door and check on their neighbors, unless they were close friends. People seem more short with each other, more quick to pounce and label people as dangerous, bad, evil, etc.

And then the recession came. If there's anything that makes people more mean and more self-centered, it's restricted financial resources. My child psych book repeatedly brings up the effects that poverty can have on children and a family. Specifically, people who can't afford a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, clothes on their backs and medical care. The effects of the lack of necessities forever affects that child and any future children he or she may have. So, when I get a facebook message with a link to a local news story about how one of our temporary sheltering facilities, A Woman's Place, may have to close its doors and empty the women and their children into the street because the State of Illinois is months behind on their payments (also behind are some federal funds) I get angry.

Women who were able to leave abusive relationships may now have to return to them because they don't have anywhere else to go. Some staff who haven't been paid in two paycheck cycles are continuing to work -- to try and keep those families safe. Good people lost their jobs because the state can't pay its bills.

How can anyone expect people to take care of other people, if government, organized to help govern and care for people, set such poor examples. It's only through the power of goodness that these families still have a warm, safe place to sleep and food in their bellies, where their children don't witness violence.

I'm ashamed of the state budget crisis. I'm ashamed of my elected officials. State of Illinois -- you're on my list. If you were caring and responsibile officials -- YOU'D forgo getting paid until these atrocities are fixed. You get paid when you do your job and fiscal irresponsibility isn't your job. Shame on all of you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Goodbye/Hello

Today, we traded in our 2002 VW Golf that we bought during the last economic crisis in October 2001. We lived in Northern Virginia then, and having one car was getting really, really difficult the more hours MacTroll and I were working. Not to mention that we'd bought our first condo six months prior, which was not Metro accessible. The VW was an awesome little car. It drove us back and forth to the Mid-Atlantic several times. It went through snow like a champ. It took me to Montreal in 2004 and 2005, which were very special vacations for me. And most importantly, it was the car I brought home both Riley AND X-man home in.
Now, we're owners of a 2010 RAV-4.


X-man got to pick the color (red). So when MacTroll and I are parked next to each other (He has a bright blue RX-8) our cars are "Superfriend colors." The Toyota has big wheels to fill. Right now it's wooing us (particularly MacTroll) with it's gizmos aplenty. But it fits in the garage, gets mileage that is comparable to the little VW and has room for X-man to grow in the back (cause let's face it, at this growth rate he's going to be taller than us by 5th grade). The one huge change besides sitting taller in a car (it's a bit like driving a bus) it's the first automatic car I've ever owned. I've always driven stickshift. So, if you see me suddenly brake in the middle of traffic, I tried to reach for my clutch. I assume it's like emotional eating, it'll take a while to reset my instincts, right? Oh, and large tire thing on back means, no magnetic bumper stickers. I know you're all crying about that. :-)

Oh and in non-related car news -- Riley's ringworm test came back negative, so we can stop bathing animals! Hooray. He's finishing off his prescriptions, and I'm doing a deep house clean tomorrow on the first floor.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween

Last year X-man refused to go trick or treating. We went to Special K's house and he was so overwhelmed by the coolness of the Wonder Twins' toys that he wouldn't leave the house. Candy was not a motivator, which, I guess I'm grateful for.

This year we had enough houses to go trick or treating in our own little neighborhood, which mostly has kids between 0-5 years of age. So everyone was out pretty early. X-man was good for our street, but after turning the corner and doing two houses down the 2nd street he announced that he had enough candy and was done. "Carry me, please."

So I abandoned SuperShawn and his little cowgirl for the night (who was a PRO at trick or treating), and I flew Superman home, where he helped pass out candy, watched Superman and kept forgetting that he had to keep pants on as long as people were coming to the door. :-) What is it about my kid not liking to wear pants?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Running buddies

Today was the first time I ran with a buddy. And I loved it. I liked having someone to chat with during the 4-mile course, and I think I might have slowed Special K's time down a bit, but my time was about average for an average run. But the conditions that we ran in were pretty entertaining.

It was pouring down rain, but warm. We ran two wide loops around Meadowbrook, which included going through low lying areas that were basically large lakes or rushing rivers of water on the south end of the park. At one point I thought I saw a baby turtle. "What is that? Is it a crab?" K asked. I stopped and took a gander. My mind flipped back to 8th grade biology. "It's some kind of crustacean!" We named them Ernest and Denise after the donors noted at the nearest sign, and we waved at them again as we ran through the water a second time.

When we were done, I loved that we had done it. But when the wind and rain were beating on my back door this a.m., I really just wanted to hear her say, "Coffee and egg white omelets at Le Peep?"

But we did it. And I'm ever so thankful that we did.

Now for the big question, do I dare try out the Second Wind Running club?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waiting for -- SUPERMAN!

Halloween cuteness through the years...



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hitting the Running Wall

I've been running 5 times a week on average. I go anywhere between 1.5 and 7 miles (although usually, I like the 2- or 4-mile runs). But I get bored of hearing myself think even with the music stylings of the Beastie Boys, Nelly, Chuck Berry, Madonna, etc., in my ear. So I try to make my runs more challenging by changing paths, terrain and by trying not to be a wuss about weather (mostly because I'm more of a wuss about the treadmill than getting wet or cold). Don't judge. I fell off a treadmill at 250 lbs in front of a whole gym of skinny Northern Virginia people in 1999. It took me 3 months to get up enough courage to go back to my gym. It took just as long for the ultra nasty leg and hip bruises to go away...

Today, I ran around the lake behind our house for the first time in a long time. Really I haven't been back there since I transitioned from walking to running. I made a lap and a half around and started walking. My feet were wet from the low parts of the trail where water collects and where running into the grass just finds more grass-covered puddles. It was foggy to the point that I couldn't see more than 20 feet in front of me. So, I took a turn and decided to run up and down the big giant sledding hill. I did it twice. Then I returned to the path.

I was still bored. So bored that I decided I had to pee, and I went home at the 20-minute mark when I was supposed to be out there for 45 minutes.

Is it the blah weather? Is it that I only got 5 hours of sleep? Is it that I am nervous about meeting my goal to run the whole 5k with no walk breaks on Sunday? Is it the fact that I have a midterm at 12:30 p.m. that I feel kind of whatever (yet, still worried) about? Is it because this is the last week of MacTroll's rigorous travel schedule and I'm fatigued? Is it the 'crazy be everywhere all at once' schedule this week? Whatever it is, I hope it goes away for my run after lunch tomorrow.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Manic Monday

I ran around town today like crazy doing a lot of stuff that needed to be done. This morning I got X-man to school a bit late, but he was having a hard time waking up and he didn't want any breakfast, but once he got there he "see ya later, Mom"ed me and pushed me out the door. He was apparently his normal self the rest of the day.

From 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. I was test driving a RAV-4. We're looking for something roomier without risking too much gas mileage. My 2002 VW Golf gets 24/29. The RAV-4 gets 21/28. Plus, it's got more room to haul around stuff. I'm super excited that next week we could have a new car. One without a tape deck...

Then I came home and had lunch and headed to my weight management meeting. I've lost 79 lbs since February, and am excited that I'm approaching an ideal weight and body fat percentage number. In other words, I'm kicking ass and taking names. I'm also running in the Rattlesnake 5k this Sunday. Are you?

After my meeting, I went home and rounded up Riley and Maya. Maya was going in for her annual check up and vaccinations. Riley was going in to get scrapings done to be retested for ringworm. We're all hoping he comes up negative, so we can stop bathing dogs and cats.

We have a weekly playdate with Roger Rogers and Curious J that X-man loves to go to. He gets very excited when I drop him off from school every Monday knowing that he's going to play with Curious J. So at 4 p.m., we headed over there.

Since 5 p.m. we've had dinner, learned to play X-man's new Bob the Builder computer game, read some fire fighter books 4 zillion times and watched a little Superman.

Tonight I have to study some more for my midterm tomorrow, which sucks because usually after X-man goes to bed, I want to fall asleep too.

Tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday are equally full of fun. Except I'll actually have time to run (in the rain, hooray!).

Anything exciting happen to you guys today?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hair issues

Last December, I had a short British rocker kind of do. I also dyed my hair back to its normal brown. I liked the cut. I liked the color. But having short hair is outrageously expensive because it requires a cut every 6-8 weeks before you start to look all feathered around the ears like Olivia Newton-John. (Yeah, at age 6 I would have killed for that look while I danced to "Make a Move on Me" in my living room.

Anyway, I decided because of my weight loss expenses the whole hair thing was gonna have to go. So it's been growing out for a year and is now just a bit past my shoulders. It's very fine and light, walnut brown with a few summer highlights in it.

But I'm starting to feel like a helmet head.

So I'm looking for ideas. I hate bangs. I'm not against highlights but I won't regularly get them (usually once every 6 months). I like texture, but at the same time, I'm not likely to even blow dry it much less put product in it unless it's a special occasion. I need wash and go...

Got something you think I'd look good in? Let me know. Cause this is what we're dealing with now. :-)


Friday, October 23, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

I seem to be running hot and cold this week. On days were the weather is nice, I feel energetic. On Wednesday, I even went out and ran almost 7 miles. But on days where the rain comes back, I feel lethargic, moody, slow. I had issues finishing my 3k run around the hood today.

But the trick is that I'm having trouble sleeping. You'd think all the running, good eating, decent bedtimes, etc., would keep me running like a well-oiled machine. But this whole weather thing and getting darker earlier thing is bringing me down.

Seriously, I'm dragging.

So it's 7:43 on a Friday. I'm about to go take a Tylenol PM and see if I can get some sleep. And hopefully, when I wake tomorrow, I'll feel rejuvenated.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ugly Demeanor

Usually, I'm a woman who is pretty even keel. I don't judge people on appearance. I give them time to sink in. I'm usually pretty understanding and not quick to make assumptions. But today, today I got annoyed at a great many things I don't normally get annoyed at.

I am usually a woman who supports parents and their choices, because I know, particularly the parents that I'm acquainted with, would dive in front of a moving train for their young ones. But today, I'm annoyed at how combative things are about certain subjects. How the tones that some parents use in order to voice their opinions comes across as the loudest one around, and I worry that other parents who haven't had the chance to really think about an issue and determine what is best for their family are influenced by that loud, bullying voice. I've always tended to hear what the voice says, and then determine for myself whether to listen. But when the shouting gets louder and the angry group it's solicited as minions starts going, the voice of dissent is often treated like it's crazy and invalid or even dangerous -- rather than just different.

I hate when people do that to each other. I hate it. And it makes me want to take the other side (even if I agree with the loud person's opinion) just to point out that diversity in views is always a good idea. That there is no one exactly correct way to do everything, and that by choosing something different that person isn't telling you you're wrong. Instead, she or he has found something that fits better for him or her. Shades of gray. I firmly believe in shades of gray.

I went to dinner at Lavender Lemonade's tonight all full of angst about this kind of stuff. Her usual pleasantness completely calmed me down for a while. But as I think about earlier today, I get frustrated. And I wish things were culturally different. And I wish the loudmouths would just shut up a bit, so I can regain my zen abilities again.

Because one of these days, I'm going to be tired of being the adult you can count on. The dependable, rock solid Looseyfur. One of these days, I'm just going to implode. I can feel it. Don't push me. You've never seen me mad. And trust me, there are reasons for that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where to Start?

It's 8:56 p.m. I have a lot of things I need to do because I spent the day enjoying myself and my family and did no chores. Well, that's not true. I ran the laundry once and washed the dishes twice. But the living room is the pits, the kitchen is a mess and I need to wash a bunch of stuff. And my husband just pointed out that I haven't showered yet today as he tries to run his fingers through my hair and pulls it. Not his fault. I haven't showered yet...

But as a family we walked the CU on the Trails 5k today at Robeson Meadows West Park today. Xander ran for about 2 minutes out of the 52 minutes we were out walking.

I'm petsitting for a friend this weekend. So I drove over and ran in and visited her boys momentarily. They were both passed out in sunbeams on the kitchen floor and hardly opened their eyes when I refilled their water and food dishes. I pet each of them, one to a deep purr and the other to a lot of insistent chatter before taking off for the Early Bird Sale at Karen's Kloset where I bought three warm and fuzzy sweaters, a pair of jeans (size 8 Polo for $8 -- which made me feel good) and a blue down winter coat for $16.

Then I came home and ate lunch with the boys before taking X-man to Lincoln Square where he enjoyed the games and the bounce house and the candy at the Disabilities Expo. We followed it up with a visit to the Art Mart train tables, where he picked out a friend for a fellow Tiger who has a 4th birthday party next Saturday. Then we went to the video store where he picked out the newer version of the Justice League -- only to get home and realize the guy gave us the 1970's Superfriends Season 2 that we rented last week.. There were no tears, but there was a big giant fat lip of sadness and disappointment, and I needed to do some filing at my desk and get started on dinner -- so I blew 32x what it cost at Rentertainment and bought Season 1 of the Justice League.

As it turns out, when MacTroll got up from his 4 hours of freedom where he got to nap and shower, both boys were sucked into the cartoon, which I have to admit, is actually very well done.

I made a phyllo tomato, cheese, basil pizza for dinner. But my sample bite said that it wasn't really great. So I shredded that recipe. I didn't have any calories left for a cooked meal, so I had a bowl of HMR chicken soup with 2 cups of vegetables and a 10 calorie jello cup.

Then I ran over (literally) to my friend's to visit her cats again. Turns out that it's 1 mile there and 1 mile home. And I managed to set a new "fast" time on my Nike+ for the mile, which made me feel pretty okay.

Now, I'm sitting here procrastinating. That's what this whole stupid summary of my day post is about. I should shower and fall into bed asleep, but then tomorrow would be all about this kind of stuff, when really, I want it to be fun again. I guess I just wish all of my time to myself didn't include picking up and washing the same things over and over again or include me out sweating my guts out while trying to stay in shape. Because that's what this whole fitness thing has lessened. It's not that suddenly someone said, "Here let me take more off your hands so you can do this." That's not how it works when you're a mom.

Instead, you get to lessen the time you spend trying to defrag your brain under the covers of your bed or nose in a book or drinks out with the girls -- with fitness. It's a trade, and I think if I loved running more, I would be okay with it. But I still find it a chore. Unfortunately, I can completely see it's practicality. And I'm a pretty practical kind of girl.

Okay, I'll stop rambling now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good Friends

I have met a number of good people in my lifetime. People who have different values and different ideals and different ambitions for their lives. It's given me perspective. It's taught me not to make assumptions. It's taught me how to be open-minded, and it's made me very thankful to them for being welcome to share in their triumphs as well as their challenges.

When I first met KTDID in college, we came from two very different types of life. I was from an economically depressed city where the number of kids in my high school was at least 3 times more than the people in her entire small rural town. She held creationist values. I'd been an agnostic since I was in fifth grade. She was stricken by homesickness. I was thrilled to finally be independent... but she was fun and she was smart, and she knew how to listen and call me on my crap.

Now, we're living in the same building again. We've gotten more similar in our big picture beliefs as we've gotten older. As individuals, we've been broken and put ourselves together so many times, with so much glue, that we're amazingly adept at figuring out where each of the little pieces go for each other and helping to hold those pieces in place until the glue dries again. And in those cases, I can ask for her help without feeling vulnerable or like I'm losing my dignity.

In addition to the emotional stuff, we are able to live together, car trip together, go to Ikea on a Saturday and pack a car together without one annoyed or stern word to the other, share a tight kitchen, bathe apprehensive cats, raise a precocious little boy and have each other's backs.

Those are all rarities in this world, and I just wanted to acknowledge our 15 years of having them.