Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Week of Low Key

MacTroll is going back to work this Monday. I believe he's visiting three to four cities in five days this week, and I'm pretty sure after 2 1/2 weeks at home (the longest stay he's had since X-man's birth) he's probably going through airport withdrawal. Of course, I think he's just exhausted by his domestic status, particularly all the stuff he had to do while I was in the hospital and recuperating.

That said, I've planned my week around all kinds of fun activities. On Monday, X-man gets to see Curious J for a playdate and then  run around the play place at McDonald's with more friends for dinner. On Wednesday, he's got a playdate with his Blonde Twin and on Thursday after Little Gym, it looks like he'll get to hang out with cool AunT and UncLes. Before he knows it, it will be next weekend... the weekend of a birthday at Chuck E. Cheese in Bloomington AND the Meetup Superbowl party at Libbygirl's

Now the trick I have this week is that I am mobile, but I'm still limited. I can't pick X-man up for what is looking for at least another week. I went to the track for the first time yesterday and did a 33-minute walk. It felt good -- really good. But I used to walk 14-minute miles and post-surgery, my ability is about a 19-minute mile. It's the pace I could go without feeling any discomfort from my stitches, but I also felt like I could have walked for longer. So, my hope is to walk every day this week for at 30-45 minutes, and see how it feels. It does mean that I obviously WILL NOT be competing in the Charleston Mid-Winter Classic 10k. Sigh. But I am hoping to be at a point where I can run/walk the Baby Ass (3.29 miles) on Feb. 20th in Danville.

But first, my son told me yesterday he wants me to put on a pair of jeans. Apparently seeing me in dresses and comfy pj pants every moment of the day is disconcerting to him. He's got a t-shirt and jeans kind of Mom... It's how he knows I'm feeling better.

February always goes by so quickly. In some ways it makes me happy because I know spring is coming quickly (although I never officially call it spring until May 1). On the other hand, I wish I got more hours in my day to get everything done. But I think that's every person's wish, right?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Budgetary Changes in Effect Today

I have a long list of travels we're taking this year. I'm excited about all of them, but my usual annual travel is 1 week of family vacation and two long weekends. Usually all of these vacations are covered by MacTroll's mileage and hotel points, so we only have to pay for food. This year -- we're stretching points as far as they can go, but we have lots of places we want to go and to get there, we're having to cut back on many other things.

Today, I started living with my new budget that I made two weeks ago. It involves us using more cash rather than credit cards. We pay our visa bills in full every month. But I think my boys have this whole... "It's broke, we'll buy a new one" or "But I want this..." mentality. We have enough stuff. And really, I'd like my family not to be so wasteful.

Every week, I pull a particular amount of money out for groceries and spending cash. I separate it into envelopes. And when the cash is gone, we're done for the week. Any extra spending money goes into another envelope for items I'd like (like my the fact that I'll need a spring/summer wardrobe after losing the weight).

Toyota Madness

MacTroll intended on taking our new RAV-4 back to the dealer today for the big Toyota gas pedal recall. When we called to make sure it was okay to come by, we got forwarded to the service manager's voicemail. Anne Button, who I like very much and used to work with when she as at the VW service department, called back right away.

And here's the scoop that Toyota is telling their service departments that may or may not be different than what you've read or heard. There is one, ONE, confirmed finding that shows that a gas pedal in a Toyota car got stuck in the halfway depressed position due to a mechanical failure. That one occurrence was with a car where the gas pedal had been assembled within the U.S. not those made in Japan. I'm guessing any other reported incidents have been found to be either user error or related to the problem with the all-weather heavy plastic floor mats sliding/getting pushed underneath the gas pedal. Those mats were recalled before I bought my car last fall. Apparently, if you have an issue, the gas pedal will feel VERY HARD to push down. If that happens, stop driving the car and call your dealership. They'll come get the car and get you a rental no cost to you right away.

Currently, Toyota is preparing for recall service work in the coming weeks. They will inspect my gas pedal, see where the pedal was made and, if it's the troublesome kind, replace the dubious part. If you have the all-weather floor mats because your kid -- like my kid -- is a messy little monster (Trust me, I tried to get them, but they hadn't redesigned new ones yet in November when I took my new car home), they'll take them away from you and get you new cloth ones until new all-weather ones are made.

So right now we wait for the parts to come in. Then Toyota will call us and arrange for me to bring in my car. I did find it funny that Anne asked me to specifically call her for information as she heard two incorrect reports on local news radio on the way to work this a.m. It's always amusing (and a little sad) for an old newspaper person to hear someone say, "Please don't listen to the media. They're not reporting correct information at all."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Little Gymnast

X-man started a semester worth of classes at the Little Gym in Savoy today. He tested it out two weeks ago during the snow day, but it was just him and one other little girl. Then he got to go to a birthday party there for one of our neighbors and a fellow NG Tiger.

The first time he was a bit shy. He didn't understand that he was going from one kind of school to another. It's my fault. I maybe shouldn't have called the Little Gym instructor a teacher. Maybe I should call them coaches? But today, all the Funny Bugs (kids ages 3-4) and Giggle Worms (ages 4-5) were there for the first day of their combined class. There were 20 of them, which is a normal pre-school class size, but they had three teachers. With all of the kids, parents and younger siblings X-man was a bit overwhelmed. We entered the gym to get our pottying out of the way. And when the teacher welcomed the kids into the gym, he didn't even say goodbye. He ran into the gym and sat down on the floor with the other teacher.

He did awesome forward rolls, scaled the climbing wall, swung like a monkey on the bars and worked on his balance beam (he seems a bit apprehensive of this one by himself). The class worked on "safety rolls" and he adored the fact that they split into teams and pretended to be trains to get from place to place while singing "Down by the Station." I loved watching him have fun, and in my mind I kept thinking to the day I met his physical therapist when he was eight weeks old about his torticollis. "He'll need to be active. You'll need to provide lots of play and activity that works his left side as well as his right. He's always going to naturally want to go to his right hand, so encourage different movement. Swimming, tumbling, dance are all great choices for little kids. But he's got to love it to want to do it."

An hour later, he was spent, but completely happy. "We go there again soon, Mom?"

"Every Thursday at 4, Baby. From now until summer comes." (Then I think we're going to try swim lessons.)

He got home and had a piece of left over pizza and some milk. Then he played quietly with Legos for pretty much an hour and a half, before he and MacTroll CREAMED their tennis competition on the Wii. Seriously, if you need an aggressive, crazy man at the net -- X-man is so your teammate.

He was in the bath at 8 p.m, but is refusing to sleep for MacTroll right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Things that suck

When your surgeon's nurse calls at 5:30 p.m. because the bloodwork you got done on Monday came in from Sketchyville -- you guessed it -- sketchy.

According to Monday's bloodwork, I had a bilirubin of 5.3. Must have been a typo, because the draw I was ordered to come into the ER tonight to take was 1.3. But I'm grateful that my doc was looking out for me...

On the plus side, my surgeon did my follow up exam and said I could come back and see him in 2 weeks. I also got a "eat and exercise at your own discretion" statement in my release. Nice. So, tomorrow, I'll be walking a bit more, especially because  I was able to wear sweatpants comfortably today! Perhaps tomorrow I'll try some workout pants and a sports bra.

Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell cat pee

Last week, I walked into my bedroom closet and got knocked over by the smell of cat urine. One of our four felines had felt the need to empty his or her bladder all over my shoes, which were neatly lined up under some shelves on the floor of my closet. I swore. Then I shook my head. I checked out the damage. Three pairs of leather shoes straight into the garbage. My Converse went into the wash. Damn. It's not like I have a lot of shoes as it is.

Then I went in for surgery. When I returned there was another cat accident in X-man's bathtub. And then, eyeing MacTroll's office I got a feeling that if it was happening up here -- it most certainly was happening in his office. He checked, and sure enough -- yuck. But we'd been a bit preoccupied the last five days with hospital stuff and surgery and some overall harmless, yet unpleasant, bickering.

We took the two prime candidates in: Maya, the big fuzzy, who has chronic cystitis and Clawdio, the invisible cat, who has had a urinary tract infection every winter for the past two.

They both got urine analysis drawn and Maya came up the winner, so she went back into her carrier looking smug while Clawdio got an examination. Turns out he's lost a half pound since December and has also acquired a heart murmur. His blood pressure test was inconclusive. The systolic was in normal range, but the diastolic wasn't. We also did a thyroid panel because weight loss and heart murmur can also mean hyperthyroid. Clawdio is currently the oldest animal in the house at age 12 1/2. My mind flips back to last January when Looseyfur started to go downhill. In the pit of my stomach, I'm hoping that the bloodwork will show something we can control. At the very least, he's on meds to cure his urinary tract infection, so hopefully when we take him back in two weeks and get his urine tested again and get another blood pressure reading, they'll both be normal.

For the time being, doors to every interior room are being closed all day. And we'll hope the meds clear up his infection quickly. Clawdio is the cat on the left... Luke is the cat on his back.  Clawdio is entirely my cat. He doesn't care much for human males of any size or age or dogs of any kind. He puts up with them, but he'd really rather just have me in a quiet apartment, in a sun beam with a warm laptop all to himself. Mmm, that sounds good. Really good. Maybe it's nap time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Health insurance fun

Apple carries UnitedHealthcare for its employees. It offers several different plan options, but because we live far away from any metropolitan area, our coverage, even with the highest level plan, is often -- spotty.

For example, Provena Covenant is the UnitedHealthcare hospital in town. But very few Provena doctors are actually UnitedHealthcare doctors. There are several Carle doctors in many specialties, however, that are in-network UnitedHealthcare doctors, so, go figure, we go to Carle Hospital.

Any blood work that is done outside of the hospital must be done at a United Healthcare-approved lab or UHC will only discount the adjusted rates -- i.e. the labwork won't  be covered. And, of course, neither the Provena or Carle labs are "approved."

Well, they finally opened an approved lab in town a couple months ago, so blood tests should no longer cost us between $200-350. We went to the new lab today for the first time for my follow up blood tests. The Alverno lab is in the basement of this very depressing office building on the corner of Springfield and 6th street in Champaign. It's underneath something called the Wrestler medical clinic (Wrestler is the doctor's last name -- and he appears to do all kinds of specialities per the signs on the doors).

The person who did my blood draw was nice, but when she went over where the results should go, she'd never heard of Carle and didn't know where it was in town, because she lived 90 minutes away and only drove in for work. "I don't actually spend any time here, and I know nothing about this place."

Yes. Totally weird. Sketchy. Bizarre. But I was the 14th person there today, per the sign in. The vials and needles were all in sealed packaging (hell yes, I checked) and it looked like they just took the blood and fed exed it to a lab -- probably in the burbs and then took care of the results afterwards.

As it is, I have my follow up with my surgeon on Friday, Jan. 29 at 3:50 p.m. Well see how that all goes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Things you don't think about

I have four holes in my belly. The biggest one is at my belly button. Then there's one about six inches above it. Another one two inches below but all the way over on my right side and a fourth one an inch below that but between the side and the belly button.

It eliminates the ability to wear pretty much any clothing that aren't large t-shirts and leggings that are stretchy at the top. Today, when I had my wave of energy, Quigs took me to Old Navy and I found three spring dresses for $15 each that didn't have any kind of waists. Then we went to Target for leggings. As it turns out the elastic top skirts or exercise pants fell down if they were big enough to go under the waddle of excess skin I have from my weight loss, because absolutely no pressure can rest on my lower abdomen without me having something between pain and annoying discomfort. On the other hand, having pants that don't support my waddle is mentally difficult. So, we went with dresses in a size larger than I usually wear to keep from aggravating my wounds.

Then I went home and took a 2 1/2 hour nap and woke up to X-man saying, "Where's Mommy? I want to see her!"

Today, he went over and played at Special K's house with the Wonder Twins and had an absolute ball. He came back happy as a clam and played Candyland with me before I went shopping with Quigs. Then at 2 p.m. MacTroll took him to the library, where X-man got to see Big J and his mom. He was so worn out that my kid, who never naps, fell asleep in his booster seat on the way back. MacTroll carried him into the house and he slept for two hours on the sofa.

KTDID made turkey spaghetti tonight that smelled incredible. I felt sad as I sat down with my HMR Ravioli. But I've got 4 more weeks "in the box" as I try to reach my weight goal.

As for exercise, I'm limited to walking. I made it around the block today with MacTroll. He walked the two dogs, who were confused as to why we were going so slowly. It's sad that I had just finished running 6 miles last weekend and really felt on a roll before surgery and ready to run my 10k on Feb. 6th... but I've written off that race completely. I won't be going to Charleston for the Mid-Winter Classic.

I'm registered to run the Baby Ass Trail Run (3.29 miles) on Feb. 20th near Danville, so I'm hoping I'm all put together and feeling capable by then. The nice part is that due to my current fitness level, the nurse said they anticipate my recovery to be much faster than the "normal" patient. That felt good. But I'll find out at my follow up visit with my surgeon in a week or so.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Good in the Bad

By now, half the world probably knows I ended up in the ER late on Wednesday night with a gallbladder attack, was admitted and then had my gallbladder removed at 7 p.m. on Friday night while most people were either a) at dinner and a movie or b) watching the Haiti telethon.

As with every trip to the hospital there are ups and down. And I could regale you with some complete horrors of my stay, but since I'm feeling much more positive after getting a night of rest and after getting discharged, I'm only going to emphasize the positive.

Nurses make or break your hospital stay. That's just how it is. If you end up in the emergency room at Carle, think good thoughts that you get Wendy as your nurse. She's awesome. She's funny, chatty, extraordinarily responsive, and she doesn't mess around when it comes to giving you pain relief.

If you end up on the 4th floor of the North Tower, the gods will have smiled down on you if you get Amy, Erica or Courtney as your RNs. They're attentive, thorough and also put a key emphasis on responsiveness, pain management and humanity. You'll also be cheered by Wayne's warm greeting to take your vitals at 6 a.m.

If you're in the hospital, you probably have a life at home that's not being attended to and a spouse who is flipping out a bit because his wife, who manages everything at home, isn't around. Then you're both grateful for friends like Quigs, KTDID, Libbygirl, Special K, Dri and Ian of the North and my favorite family members, who not only call and check up on you frequently, they take your child (our most precious cargo) for a few hours, do your laundry, make meals, send flowers and show up for a visit. And then there's the legion of awesome folks who make the offer to help and know that they're on call if we need them.

The support network we've made in Champaign helped us a lot this week. I thank all of you for your good thoughts and love. You're loved right back.

I'm slow and steady right now at home. Walking feels okay, but stairs are difficult. I get tired easily. Mostly, I'm glad not to have someone waking me every hour to give me shots in my belly or poke me to take blood. I'm also thankful to be able to eat food. I spent 53 hours without any kind of food or water out of the 63 hours I was at the hospital. I'm getting my pineapple fix tonight. My high liver enzymes were coming down within 8 hours of having the gallbladder removed, but I have to go back to the lab to get a CBC on Monday to make sure they're back to a normal level. I also have a follow up with my surgeon, Dr. Oliphant, in a week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pain, Pain, Pain

On Christmas, I woke up having a killer spasm in the area of my diaphragm that appeared to pull on all the muscles in my upper back. I took an Aleve and it felt better in 30 minutes.

Two weeks later, I woke up with the same symptoms. I took ibuprofen and felt better in 45 minutes.

Yesterday, I had another attack and followed the same protocol. I had thought maybe I was breathing wrong while I was running so the last two weeks had been all about focusing on breathing when running. The other similarity was that I had the attacks on days where I was resting from exercise -- until today.

I had another attack after I ate lunch today, so I called the doctor and went in. Tomorrow, I have an ultrasound and some blood work scheduled. It appears as if I have a gall bladder issue.

Oh, hooray.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review of the St. Louis Science Center

Last Friday we visited the St. Louis Science Center. It's a "free" science museum for kids. When we lived in D.C, we got used to the Smithsonian, which is entirely free to visit and easily accessible by public transit or, if you're staying in the city, by foot.

The Science Center isn't downtown. It's about 3 miles down the road and not a walkable kind of road. You have to cross over an interstate. Plus, parking at the museum is $8, which is pretty much like paying an admission fee, since you can't get there any other way unless you live in the neighborhood or have a good understanding and the time and patience for St. Louis bus routes. Inside the museum, there are a lot of choices. The "free" exhibits are older and run down and more older child focused. The one exception is the dinosaur and fossil exhibit on the lower level.

If you're willing to pay some extra dollars there are, of course, extra items for you. The first is why we went in the first place: an exhibit called Dinosaurs Unearthed. Lots of giant, robotic dinosaurs, information on fossils, dinosaur poop, etc. X-man was a little scared when he walked in and saw a gigantic Triceratops making moaning sounds and turning his head.

"He'll eat me!"

"No, he's a herbivore, remember?"

"Oh, yeah. -- Is he real?"

"No, he's a robot. Dinosaurs are extinct. That means they're not around any more."

"Like a robot Superman has to crush?"

"No, like a robot you can control."


Then we walked around the corner where several of the dinosaurs had simple push button controls so that kids could make them move their heads, roar, shake their tails, etc. X-man was in heaven. We spent around 30-40 minutes just examining the dinosaurs and learning how they are related to birds. This exhibit was free for kids 3 and under, but it was $12.50 for kids and adults over 3. When we finished we visited the free part of the museum, where an employee excited X-man by telling him about the Spinosaurus, which was bigger than the T-Rex, but doesn't get any play.

We skipped the new I-Max theater showing of Under the Sea, since we didn't think X-man would be likely to sit still, even watching his favorite -- scuba divers -- on the big screen during "quiet time." Instead, we opted to pay $3 each for him to go to the Discovery Room and run out his "I'm not tired" mania there.

And this is where I think the Science Museum has kind of a good idea -- that they made bad. The Discovery Room is a perfect science learning area for kids 6 and under. It's like a compact, high-quality children's museum. Kids are allowed to play for 45 minutes at a time and they control the number of people in the exhibit so that it doesn't get turned to crap in a matter of seconds. I like the crowd control, but if you're not going to have pre-school friendly exhibits anywhere else in your museum -- what you do have should be free. You can still control the numbers with tickets and you could probably shorten it to 30-minute intervals, but seriously, it was the most X-man friendly exhibit where he could touch things and play with things and understand them. And the toys in the room were pretty fun. His favorite was the table completely devoted to space exploration. But he also raced cars of different weights, sat in a Teepee, played doctor in a hospital, etc.

Lunch time was spent under a ball track that is very cool. It zings brightly colored mini bowling balls (like a pin ball machine) around the ceiling area and into all kinds of crazy contraptions. Lunch choices are either Pizza Hut or a small café that has very healthy salad and sandwich choices. The downfall here though is the portions when it comes to kids. The only kids-sized meal that they offered at the café was a PB and J sandwich. X-man is more of a ham and cheese kind of guy, so we had to get him the adult combo (with a chips pile that could have fed a family of 4) and a sandwich that could have fed two adults.

The gift store was filled with fun science stuff. Seriously, I'd see if I could get dropped off to just shop there if I was in town and looking for gifts. If you're a teacher, they offer a 10 percent discount. There is also a Build-a-Bear store on the lower level that lets you create bears -- or DINOSAURS. X-man came home with a Spinosaurus named Sidney who is dressed as a superhero. :-)

Overall, I think you'd be better off visiting some place like the Indianapolis Children's Museum than the Science Center any day of the week. Indy has exhibits in much better shape and offer much more to the younger set. In addition, you know right away that you're paying admission for quality rather than having it sucked out of you for everything cool at a museum that pretends that it's free and friendly for the whole family.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Review of the City Museum in St. Louis

I'm a sucker for public art in a playground that is not only fun to look at -- but is actually functional. I learned this last summer when we went on a family trip to San Francisco and found the Koret Children's Garden. Since MacTroll has been away for a couple of weeks and said he had some vacation he needed to use up, I scheduled us a little overnight trip to St. Louis in the middle of the week this week.

Neither MacTroll or I have spent a lot of time in St. Louis. But I had heard good things about the City Museum and from the web site I knew I wanted to check it out. The great part about going to this museum  in January in the middle of a school week is that no one is there. Since a great deal of the museum is actually about structure and exploring (there aren't really educational signs in the museum, except for in the aquarium area) it's kind of like an indoor public art jungle gym for parents and children. The only real rules are that you can't always back up if you're in a tunnel (you've got to go forward if people are behind you) and that if you have a child under the age of 7 parents are required to go through the tunnels right after them.

And by tunnels, I don't just mean one or two. I mean you become like one of those naked mole rat systems you see at the zoo. The tunnels are everywhere and they vary in sizes and there are some holes that I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have fit through last year. I make this assessment off the fact that MacTroll almost got stuck in one because his shoulders are pretty broad (a trait of his that I have always actually loved). And if he weighs almost 50 lbs less than I did at my heaviest, there was no way my hips were gonna fit through some of them.

The attendant on duty recommends that parents go through this kind of tunnel on their backs. So you climb in and then push your body up with your legs, move up, push again and continue.

X-man wouldn't enter this one. Instead, he sent me up to see if it was safe. Then he discovered a roller slide around the corner, which was one of the MANY possible exits from the tunnel in the ceiling (it was steel to get into, but then became one of those plastic tubing tunnels like at a McDonald's Play place) that was hidden by crazy ceiling decor. You could look out and spy on people below you, but they had a hard time seeing you in the tunnel. Another such tunnel (the one MacTroll said got very claustrophobic) was under the floor in the same room.

X-man would go into the tunnels that were short or attached to the slide. If there wasn't light at the end of it, he declared that Bob the Builder was still digging it and it was closed (i.e. there's a whole cave exhibit for exploration that neither MacTroll and I got to play in because it was darkened).

The coolest tube, in my opinion, though was in the aquarium section:

The tube goes right through the shark/sea turtle tank. It leads up to a little glass bottom boat that the kids can pretend to drive. I wanted to just sit in the tube and watch the sharks and sea turtles go by -- and I did -- because again, NO ONE was there on a Thursday afternoon in January.

The drawback to going in January is that the museum has erected a number of insanely cool outdoor climbing structures. From the photos they're not built for those who are afraid of heights or little kids. But the roof with the 10-story slide is closed in the winter, as are many of the outdoor areas. So if you have bigger kids who need some advanced climbing time, you might want to come back when the weather is warmer and everything is open. If you have littler kids, there is an indoor toddler area (that features the largest pair of underwear in the world, which you can actually buy in the gift shop), but it's pretty limited. I think if X were two, he would have liked it more. As it was, the entire family crawled into the belly of a tiny whale sculpture and then he jumped into the ball pit and road the train.

X-man needed a bit of confidence-building going into some of the climbers. He didn't like the ones where there wasn't a hard bottom beneath him. So he was more comfortable in the rock tunnels or in the long roller slides or the McDonald's-like tunnels than the steel framed ones.

We walked to the museum from our hotel, so we avoided parking fees. But the cost for us to get in was $12 each. We also paid an extra $6 to go to the aquarium (which was definitely worth the extra money -- so many things to look at, touch and learn explore in there) and had the roof been open that would have been an extra $5. So it's not cheap. But it is a pretty and wonderfully unusual place to take your child, particularly after they've spent a couple hours dormant in a car. I am glad we didn't take X-man to this museum when he was any younger. I don't think it would have been worth the entry fee, even thought kids 2 and under are free. But kids who are show particularly monkey like behavior who are between ages 3 and 12 year olds will have a lot of fun.

I mean, what kid doesn't want to run on a giant-sized gerbil wheel?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Working It Out

It's 11 p.m. and I'm pooped. One would think that being a student/stay-at-home Mom I'd get a lot of rest. But no. I sleep like crap a lot. I've been writing down when I have trouble sleeping... and 90 percent of the nights are nights when MacTroll is gone.

Lately, by the time 8 p.m. rolls around I'm exhausted. Mostly, I think, due to my exercise schedule. When I need to think about something now, I end up doing it while I run or swim rather than sitting at a desk. Multitasking the big thoughts through the rhythmic gliding through the water or pace of my plodding feet.

And when I have big things on my mind, suddenly the calories burned per day goes through the roof. Since Monday I've burned over 2,300 calories. My usual average is somewhere between 400 and 540 a day, six days a week. So, it's almost double the lower number. About one week a month, I do this double workout thinking about my big picture.

And there's one question I can't seem to answer: Who am I?

Monday, January 11, 2010


So three weeks ago, I started attending the Body Blast class at the Fitness Center taught by Melissa. It's a lot of fun. It's roughly 30 minutes of high intensity cardio followed by 30 minutes of strength training that is lots of reps at lower weights. The idea being to strengthen and lengthen. (Genetically, women have  hard time bulking up as it is thanks to our hormones, which is fine by me.) But I love the dance part of the class and the running part of the class a lot.

I've noticed that since it's a class based on intervals that my cardio fitness has improved greatly in just a short time, which is nice.

I weighed in this week after last weeks' random 8 lbs gain in one week. Mathematically, I was supposed to lose .8 lbs (considering the calories in/calories out). I lost about 6.5 lbs. Water weight and New Year's. But I'm feeling pretty good about it.

I'm also starting to get used to the size I am. I had a woman in class mention her obesity and why she had an issue. She was not inviting me to talk about my issue, so I kept my mouth shut. I just listened. And I completely understood her frustration.

My biggest frustration is that I'm going to St. Louis on Thursday with the boys. I'm going out to a hockey game and to dinner with Captain Patrick -- and I'm in the box for the next six weeks to get to my goal weight at the Clinic. So, I'll be eating before dinner. I've already scoped out some "in the box" items on the menu at the restaurant and I'll be carrying an HMR Benefit Bar in my pocket for the game where I will consume the largest Diet soda ever. Yeah, I know none of this is a Whole Food. It's okay. Seriously, stand next to me for a minute or two, you'll figure out I'm getting enough fruits and vegetables. Beans, beans, beans...

P.S. I forgot. If anyone lives in the C-U area and is wondering more about the Carle Weight Management program. I have some info on upcoming free orientation meetings.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Adventures in Bloomington

Today, X-man and I went to Bloomington to meet some friends at Chuck E. Cheese. We usually make the trek once a year on a Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. It's an hour there and an hour home. No one is there on Sunday morning, so we had the place practically to ourselves until 11 a.m. 

X-man kept getting the rat confused with the mouse. Until he finally said, "Well, on our way to Chuck E. Cheese's will we at least pass by Mickey's house?" Okay, good. He gets that they're two different animals and two different cartoon characters. When I said that Mickey had homes in several places around the world, but none of them near us, X-man's response was... "Maybe we should go to one of Mickey's houses and see where he goes to Chuck E. Cheese and go to that one."

So, Mickey -- you're warned that you might be stalked by a 3 year old who wants to see you before he goes to the Chuck E. Cheese you might eat at. I didn't have the heart to tell him you had a whole game/pizza/toy line of your own that could crush Chuck E. Cheese in millisecond. 

And although I loved riding the roller coaster, throwing the skeeballs, playing the bee game and getting our photo taken... I was amazed at how long and lean my son's legs have become. No more chunky baby legs there. Only a big boy with constant bed head. 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Learning Something New

So, this morning Special K and I tried to run at the Armory. It's a larger indoor track and is likely to be the training place I do all of my long runs each weekend until the weather is nicer (or at least in the double digits without a wind that could blow a house down), but it was closed for a track meet. -- Damn.

We parted and I went over to the Savoy Rec Center and ran 5 miles. Today, I decided, I am going to run this whole distance without a walk break. I'm going to run a pace that my body feels is natural. 

I ran one lap, realized I had to pee, stopped my iPod, used the bathroom and then started the workout over again. Then I ran... 16 laps around the track is 1 mile. That's 80 laps for 5 miles. And I realized each time I wanted to stop that I wasn't tired -- I was bored. So I came up with little fantasies in my head to keep me going. Imaginary running stories, and before I knew it the woman was announcing I'd gone 3 out of 5 miles. Sweet. The last mile was, of course, the longest. But when I hit the "400 meters left" call, I had a lot of energy. So I ran faster. If it had been on a straight away, I would have looked long and lean and swift (or so I tell myself in my head). But since it was on a gerbil wheel -- it just looked moderately faster. When I was done, I was happy, not exhausted. When I was done I stretched everything out and then laid on the floor to listen to "Give it to Me" by Timbaland (with Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado). 

My body felt right. It felt good.

Last September, I started running. I ran intervals where I walked a song and then ran a song. Now I can run for 5 miles without stopping. It totally makes the 10k I signed up for in 3 weeks look less daunting (well, if the weather comes around).

Now to take a shower, go to the grocery store... tomorrow I'm taking X-man to Chuck E. Cheese. MacTroll is leaving on a Sunday (again!) and is gone through Wednesday, but then he's home for 2 1/2 weeks. The longest amount of time straight since X-man was born. Crazy, huh?

Friday, January 8, 2010

In the Box

So, in my last power play to get to my weight goal, I've signed up for a Blitz with my Weight Management Program. That means I'm back in the box for the next six weeks. If everything works out calorie wise, I should reach goal by my birthday. In the box means that I'm back on dietary restrictions. I'm trying to focus on recordkeeping because as of late, I've been really good M-Thursday a.m. and then I record like crap all weekend. I've lost 12 lbs while in maintenance since Sept. 26th, so I'm doing well. I just want to see the goal number by my 1-year anniversary with the program (Feb. 19). And then back into maintenance I go with the goal being to try and maintain that weight, rather than lose more.

I've been training like mad this week, minus the snow day where my physical activity consisted of shoveling. But I've done two brick workouts this week. One with biking and swimming and one with running and biking. I'm also doing a 5-mile run tomorrow with Special K at the armory at 8:30 a.m.

Sunday will be my rest day, and then Monday I'm back at school and in workout central. I'm trying to get enough courage to run outside in the weather. Mostly because I have a 10k to do on Feb. 6.

So, if we're eating together between this coming Monday and six weeks from then. Cut me some slack. I really just want to see that goal number, you know?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I can't believe we're XM subscribers.

Mmm, the husband and I have come to a strange crossroads. We're iPod people through and through, but this XM in the new car thing required us to "explore other options."

"We're not paying $30 a month for this," MacTroll said. I agreed. Even though I'm kind of partial to the "80s on 8" and "90s on 9" and the fact that I can get Quebec news en Français (so what that it's the same 5 stories every 2 minutes).

And then the renewal information came.

"$14 a month, and they have this station that I think you'll like," I said before programming the "Classic Wave" into the set.

One week later, MacTroll's response. "I dig this channel. It's like the Morrissey channel. Maybe for $14 a month, it might be worth it." (Yes, he actually used the word "dig.") I wouldn't have spent $14 for any of the stations I might like or his Morrissey station...

What finally sold me was Kids Place Live. X-man loves it. They play new and different kids music, mostly stuff that doesn't make us want to pull our hair out. And X-man got to hear his name on the radio and they played not one, but two requests, I put on their Facebook page for us on the way back from Rockford to Savoy. And they're on all the time. It's more fun than the limited supply of kids music we've been playing for X-man since he was born.

So, now we've got XM for a year. Here's to hoping I understand more than 20 percent of each of the French Canadian newscasts by this time next year, because what I understand now is mostly hockey and stories about H1N1 and flu vaccinations.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Cuteness of Almost 4

X-man is having a string of friends at school turn 4 this month. I know that his 4th birthday is approaching, but I'm also noticing how much "3" behavior is finally waning. He can play with his friends without bossing them around ALL the time. He can interact. He can go it alone. He's being more polite to most other people (who aren't his mother or father). He's using his words to describe how he feels. His most frequent feeling is frustration, however. But hey, I don't care how frustrated he is -- he still can't stay in the car by himself while I go into the store, he still has to wear a coat and hat when it's -3 in the a.m. and 8:30 p.m. is still bedtime.

He's completely obsessed with reading books, which is awesome. They've been talking about the author and illustrator at school, which we started covering at home in November. But now we've moved on to wanting to know about the publishing company and how a table of contents works. It's kind of fun to see his brain process.

We got some credit at Barnes and Noble and spent it on 5 books of X-man's choice. Shocker that 2 of them were DC Comics books. One of them was the Superfriends and it didn't have Wonder Woman in it. X-man got very upset. He did not think it was fair that Wonder Woman was left out and Aquaman was inserted -- when he wasn't one of the original six who started the Justice League. (Can you tell we're a geek family?) So I took him next door to Toys R Us. And after tons of searching we finally, finally,  found a set of Justice League Unlimited figures with Wonder Woman in it.

So now Wonder Woman can fight the criminals, too. He's my little feminist kid, and I love him for it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


So, I started planning my athletic schedule for the summer. I had hopes of doing a series of races, but other things have come up on weekends, so I'm taking registration a bit slower than norm. Because, really, if I have to pick between the mental sweat of competition and sitting at a bar with my buddies in some distant land (Michigan, Toronto, possibly Seattle, St. Croix, D.C., etc.) the friends are gonna win every time. And I can still sweat -- I just don't have to compete on those trips. :-) But open water swimming with Robin in the Caribbean would be a personal dream.

To be fair, Seattle in June may very well be a meet up with a friend from D.C. around an athletic event, but we'll see if she does that Rock N' Roll Marathon or if she does the San Diego one.

Right now I'm registered to participate in:
Feb. 6 (Charleston, IL) Mid-winter Classic 10k
Feb. 20 (Danville, IL) 8th Annual Fat Ass (but I'm doing the Baby Ass) 3.29 miles
March 13 (Champaign, IL) Earth Wind and Fire 5k
April 3 (Rockford, IL) Arny Johnson Run for Habitat for Humanity 10-miler (!!!)
May 1 (Champaign/IL) Illinois Marathon Relay (my portion should be around a 10k)
August 14 (Toronto Island, Ontario) Try-a-Tri

My college friend Andie is starting on her improved fitness journey this year. She wants to do a 5k with me, so I'm looking for one in Bloomington or Peoria to do with her.

Special K and I tried running at the armory for the first time last weekend. It's easier than the Rec Center because the track is bigger, but holy moly it's boring. At least it's warm and has a clean place to pee, which is more than I can say for outdoor runs.

I joined the Urbana Aquatic Center. I've been twice, and so far I'm enjoying it. The first 10 minutes of my workout, I feel completely uncomfortable. And then suddenly my body gets into a groove and goes. Although I did my swim workout today after I did a cycling workout. My triathlon training manual calls this a brick workout. I'm sure they mean for it to happen RIGHT after the other workout, but um, I needed a morning snack and to pay some bills. So I was on a bike from 9-9:45 a.m. and then in the pool form 11:50 until 12:30. I'm pretty sure it's called Brick because it's like you're smacking into a wall. I ended up doing a lot of pulley work in the pool today because my legs were a bit jelly from my 12-mile bike ride that morning. But it's good for them. It means that when I get to August, they'll be more used to the workout and I'll (hopefully) have built up their endurance.

In other news, I fell off the eating wagon hard last week. And by hard, I mean, I reached my lowest weight ever and decided to have a good time and then got my period two hours after weigh in. I've always looked at women who complained about gaining 2 lbs as being insane because some months when I get my period the water weight is a lot more than 2 lbs. For example, this week -- I gained 8 lbs in a week. We traveled for 4 days, so there was a bit of a hail mary pass there. And now I know... I can't throw the ball the week before my period and still run down the field, catch it and score a touch down. Go figure -- turns out I'm not a "super."

So, another good side effect of the brick workout -- I burned just about 700 calories today at my "goal" weight multiplier. I expect to reach that number on most days of the week from now on since I'm training for things.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cute Cousins

MacTroll's oldest brother came to visit the other day with his three children. X-man adores his cousins and hates that he only sees them twice a year. Usually we go out in the spring and they come in August... but this year they came for Christmas. We only got to host them for a few short hours. But it was a good time and left both families yearning for more time together, so we'll be heading out to Baltimore over Memorial Day weekend.

But here are some photos of X-man with his (newly) six-year-old cousin SuperSam at our house. Can you tell they bonded, even though they're polar opposites? (SuperSam is a completely sweet neat freak... and X-man loves chaotic messes and convincing people that the sky is, indeed, green, not blue. But clearly they've worked out some kind of Odd Couple routine because that arm around the shoulder thing in the second photo -- completely SuperSam's natural instinct.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's a whole new year, thank goodness.

MacTroll and I spent Dec. 30-Jan. 2 alone in Chicago at the W in City Center. It was our first time staying there and I do prefer it to the W on Lakeshore. The building has much more character and the staff is much more service oriented. The two Chicago Ws still pale in comparison to the Montreal W... but you know -- they're Canadian and uber friendliness is part of their culture.

Our only goal during our 3 1/2-day stay was to do thing we couldn't normally do with X-man around. For example, we got to finish whole sentences when we talked. We didn't have to carry around extra clothes in case someone demanded new pants because he spilled two drops of juice on the ones he was currently wearing, we had enough room in our bed and no fear of anyone kicking the living crap out of us while we were unconscious AND we only had to get up when our bodies told us they wanted to. As it was, we took naps 2 out of the 3 days. I was in bed by 10:30 p.m. two of the nights (the exception being New Year's). I also ran on the lakefront before the temps dropped to single digits. Afterwards, I used the hotel gym (it had Nike+ equipment!), which was fine for an hour, but holy cow I'd get bored doing the typical gym cardio equipment all the time. We also went to the movies -- twice. We saw Up in the Air and Sherlock Holmes. Both were funny and entertaining. We even got excited about the preview for Death at a Funeral. There's just something hilarious about Danny Glover and toilets.

New Year's was a little sketchy. We don't celebrate it. We don't believe in resolutions. Why make up something new for a calendar year? Why can't you just make a resolution because it's the third Tuesday of whatever month... It's symbolic, I know. We went out to dinner at a fine, but nothing extraordinary restaurant (Catch 35: a seafood place near the river). Then we worked out at the gym. On our way up the stairs from the 3rd floor to the 14th floor (Elevators were FULL of girls in stilettos and their dates.), we ran into some football player-sized dude in a nice suit covered in blood. Someone had popped him in the nose. He was so trashed he wasn't feeling anything. When we got in our room and finished showering we heard a commotion in the hall. Big, bloody dude was accusing the 20 people or so -- waiting at the elevator -- of hitting him. Shouting ensued. Then quieted. Then returned. $330/night hotel... MacTroll was entertained and hiding behind his peephole.

Things quieted down when everyone hustled down to the party room for the new year's countdown. I fell asleep by 12:30 a.m. MacTroll said that by 1 a.m., everyone was back upstairs, drunk and screaming. Someone else got punched twice and then the guy who punched him highjacked his room. Hotel security called 911. Fire department came to look at the guy who got punched. Then a squad of 4 policemen took the room that had been highjacked. Lots of screaming and such.

When we left for brunch at 9:30 a.m. -- the lobby looked like no party had ever happened. Our hallway outside our room was covered in mushed pretzels. But downstairs was quiet, like it had been the day before. By the time we returned to the hotel room at 9 p.m. that night, everything was spotless and the whole joint was silent. It was awesome.

As for our few days, we spent most of them hunting for a jacket for MacTroll, but they were sold out of his size, and although lots of places had post Christmas sales going on, a fair amount were putting out spring things -- seriously. There were bathing suits everywhere. We also ate at some foodie restaurants. We'd definitely recommend Graham Elliot for special occasions, but I'd recommend that on any dish where there's a "froth" have them remove it. It doesn't add much--and the visual was kind of unappealing to me. But the rest of the food is heavenly, particularly the blood orange dreamsicle dessert. (Seriously, it's worth it just to go for that.) The better "date night" is Eve in the Gold Coast a little north and west of Water Tower. I recommend the chestnut pear soup and the seared Wahoo.