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


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 -- 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."


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


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


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?