Saturday, February 27, 2010

An Unusual Request

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to treat myself to a present for reaching my weight loss goal. When I was in my twenties, I thought that if I ever became healthy, I'd want to get my belly button pierced. Something different. Something that felt a little feminine and a bit risqué. But let's face it, after actually losing 90 lbs, I enjoy how I look dressed, but my skin is pretty loose and it will likely not ever tighten up given the largeness of my loss. So belly button piercing was out and a little overdone these days.

Instead, I decided on something prettier. I decided I wanted a corset after watching a youtube clip of Rachel McAdams at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. We don't have a custom corset place in Champaign, so it required a trip to Chicago. I solicited some of my friends to see if they'd go with me and make sure I didn't make a complete fool of myself. Quigs and Womanthatrolls, two women who met me at two very different stages in my life, came with me for the excursion. Quigs and I got up there a little early, so we stopped by a Bleeding Hearts Organic Bakery. I tried one of their cake balls and brought one home for MacTroll. 

I had some doubts when I walked into the tiny storefront shop called Skyscraper Heels. I felt way out of my league in the tiny little store with really tall shoes, but Gary, the store's owner, quickly made me feel at home. His assistant Laura was also very friendly. 

I've never had a corset before. So he measured me and then brought out his Vollers book (the type of Corset he carries and orders) to see the styles I was interested in. He had warned me over the phone when I'd made the appointment that not all corsets fit all body types. I needed some lift and push for the girls who have deflated through weight loss. But I also needed it to be long waisted because I'm not a petite girl. The one below I had picked as my favorite going up there, because I loved the pattern, was the most conservative. And although I liked it when we laced me into it in my t-shirt, the sweetheart top wasn't very complimentary. We also learned that I went down a size (to a size 26) when I tried it on in just my cami. (So if you ever go, leave your bra at home and just wear an undershirt to try it on.)

Between the two fittings, Gary explained the best way to hook the front. Always start with the second button, then work your way down before doing the top button. When you undo the corset, do the top button and then work from the bottom up. Always do the second button last. It prevents it from locking if you get it the wrong way. If it locks up -- you're stuck in the corset. Same if the back gets knotted.

I asked for a corset with a lower cup rise for the next one, but I was definitely too tall for it. So although it looked good at the top, there was some gapping at the top of my jeans where some of the dreaded skin would poke through. Since my goal with the corset is to be able to wear it out and about with skirt or a pair of jeans, that wasn't going to work.

My favorite turned out to be this red one with black trim (#1905). Gary went over how to tie it with me three times. By the time we got to this one, I was okay with the front hooks, but the ties are going to take a lot of practice (and some helpers until I get better at it). 

Yeah, this is the one I chose. I think it's pretty kick ass. I think I might wear it to the 30th birthday outing I have on Friday... 

Womanthatrolls and I stopped outside a candy store on the way to lunch. There was some kind of random penguin. 

Afterwards, the girls and I headed for a late lunch at Kitsch'n. I nearly made Quigs throw up with my tofu and broccoli scramble. She nearly made me vomit with her bowl of brownie batter for dessert. Just for the record, my bananas foster Twinkie wasn't great, but my taste of the brownie batter was pretty enjoyable. Womanthatrolls just wanted to vomit at both of our dessert choices. 

A big thank you to Quigs for the photos. I had an awesome time. It was a great adventure. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Issue is Organic

Last summer I got a vegetable garden up and going. It was some work and some expense, but it felt good to get out and get my hands dirty. I just planned out the garden for this summer based on what worked and what didn't. And -- although this might start an argument with my son -- I didn't cater to his whims about what he'd like to see in the garden because outside of the cherry tomatoes and pumpkins, he didn't want anything to do with eating any of it. Oy.

But there are choices when you're buying seeds or plants. Do you get those that come in packages labeled organic and pay more for them? Or do you save a little money and figure I'm not putting any chemicals on them... can't that be good enough?

Last night several girlfriends and I attended a free class on how to eat organic on a budget. Healthy organic. It is held every month at our local coop. And the information was very good. It was also nice that the manager of the coop who taught the class lives and eats the way teaches... with a full-time job, a pre-schooler and a husband who works full-time, i.e. she gets the bonus of convenience. Lately since I've restricted the budget, I've automatically started using Sunday as my day to pre-make some foods to get us through the week. It's when I bake bread or a make a snack. Turns out our instructor uses her weekend for that, too. She also gave us some skills on organizing to prepare multiple meals and track what goes in and out of the freezer.

And when she says on a budget, she means that each of the meals she gave us recipes for are able to be purchased in the coop (using a lot of bulk elements) for less than $2.10 a serving. A lot of it is made up of beans and grains. And she discussed different ways to prepare beans so that they don't have to soak.

I'll be using three of her meals during the week of March 5-11th. We'll see how they go. Most of the recipes were vegetarian, but are are also meat friendly -- or vegan friendly depending on which way you want to alter them. Overall, I'm really glad I went because since starting our new household budget a month ago, by shopping at traditional grocery stores I've had to let go a lot of the organic eating we were doing. Milk was a big one that I cut out. As X-man's milk consumption has gone through the roof in the last 8 weeks, the days of water or watered down juice are few and far between. And I can't pay $4-6 per gallon each week for two gallons for organic skim milk. That would be 8-12 percent of my overall weekly grocery budget for four people. I also used to buy the smart chicken and the high-end cage-free, organic eggs. Now I buy regular Tyson chicken breasts and the lower-end grass fed Eggland's Best (usually with a coupon)... particularly since I recently learned that cage-free could mean anything. In my heart, I know that eating with a whole foods approach is better for my family and the environment. And if there's a way to make it convenient that's all the better.

But it does take a crazy amount of planning. Guess it's a good thing I like that part of my domestic goddess status, right? It's a learning curve, so hopefully by the end of the summer I'll have a better plan and approach it with less fear and intimidation. And see about volunteering at the coop...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Period 3

There are definite stages to parenting -- not unlike child development stages. Today, I did a 10k run at the track at the Savoy Recreation Center. I looked down at all the parents with young children and I remembered when X-man was little I used to take him to the Tag-a-long gym on Thursdays, too. He was free when he was under 1, so we'd go and he'd crawl across the giant gym floor and pull up on the grocery cart to see if he could stuff whatever toys another toddler had put in it into his mouth.

Then a 2 year old would come back to the car, push him down and run away with it. X-man would cry. The mother of the 2 year old would apologize and try to stress sharing and taking turns. And I'd think, "I can't believe that kid just pushed my baby down."

Then my kid became a toddler -- with a biting problem -- who was bigger than most of the other toddlers in his social group. He was as self centered as they came, but he was adventurous. I took him to Sholem Pool where, at 16 months he loved going up and down the water slide. Again, he was moving too slow on the slippery stairs and some 3 year old pushed him out of the way. I caught him before he crashed too hard into anything, but I thought, "I bet that kid has creepy older brothers and sisters who pushed him down like that."

Then my kid turned 3. A mood swinging, independent, loud tantrum, protesting 3. We went to the mall to play. He saw an 18-month-old boy vacating one of the stupid cars that you put quarters in and pushed the kid out of the way and pretty much on his head in order to get his turn in the car faster. The other mother rushed to her toddler. I sighed. Hauled X-man out of the car, explained what he just did hurt the other boy. X-man would look in my eyes. He wouldn't look at the child as he apologized. It was clear he could have given a crap. I looked at the parent with my eyes full of "I'm sorry" and apologized. She picked up her kid, put his coat on and left. My apology meant nothing. She was thinking, "I can't believe that jerk of a kid just pushed my baby down."

Now that X-man is almost 4. He's much more tolerant of babies. He seems to understand that they don't really talk and that they fall over a lot. He likes to give them kisses and cover them with blankets. But he gets frustrated by his fellow 3 and 4 year olds. He still is in that self-centered, self-serving developmental area. So, when he's running around a playground with older boys who don't understand all of his still developing language, but are into playing superheroes and don't mind having another teammate I watch some of the boys assign my child the villain role. This makes him upset. He doesn't want to be the bad guy. Some of the older boys understand this and they're completely cool with being a Sith Lord. :-)

But late at night when my boy is mumbling as he tries to fall asleep. He says things like, "The big kids laugh at me. The big kids are really loud."

"How does that make you feel?" I ask.


Social acceptance -- our next big developmental challenge as he moves from a baby, to a toddler, to a pre-schooler to a real "big" boy, and I'm developing as a parent right along with him.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Curse of the Good Girls

I spent some time at Rogers' house tonight. I just dropped by to check in since she's on bed rest right now. And we had a discussion about how much bed rest sucks. She did it for months with her first pregnancy. I only had to do it for a short time around my surgery. Now she's back on it with this pregnancy and we're all keeping our fingers crossed that it's not going to as long as it was when she was pregnant with Curious J.

What struck me most about the conversation was that there are these definite similarities in the way that Rogers and I were raised, because they both led to these crazy expectations we have of ourselves.

Good girls keep their wits about them. Good girls are always there to help. Good girls are self-sufficient, responsible, reliable. Good girls get good grades, date nice boys.

What has happened is both good and bad. As adults, we have trouble trusting people. We let most people in to a certain extent, but not enough that if they totally disappeared we'd be heart broken. We think we should be able to take care of everything in our lives by ourselves and we should always be able to do it well. We set extremely high expectations of ourselves and consider these expectations to be the bare minimum acceptable performance. We are terrible at admitting that we need help or asking for it. We keep things to ourselves far too often. We beat ourselves up for our mistakes, even though we learn best by them. We don't want to be a bother to anyone. And we're okay not being noticed at all.

And I wonder what it is about our cultural upbringing that put all of those ideas into our heads. Because the truth is that we're both very high performing, empathetic, smart women. So why do we keep ratcheting up the expectations? Why can't we just be okay with who we are? Why do we continue to frustrate ourselves when we've learned time and time again that we have very little control over things like diseased gallbladders and babies?

Is it just us, or are there other people who feels this way too?

Whopper of a story

X-man has started making up stories when he talks to me. Not the usual bedtime stories -- but random life stories. The other day he told me that one of his Tiger teachers said he needed a bigger blanket because he's a big boy. I asked him if he'd like a bigger blanket for nap time. He said he wanted his big blanket from his bed. I thought it was too big but thought maybe a throw of some kind would work.

I asked his teacher when we got there and she looked at me confused. We figured X-man was just voicing something he wanted but using the "power of the teacher" to communicate that message to me. But he does it for other things. This morning he turned in a friend he hasn't seen in a week for using a bad word. It was just a random ramble at breakfast. The other day he told me that Daddy was on a plane going to work in Africa, even though he knows that he rented a car to drive to Bloomington.

Apparently, my child enjoys self-created drama. I was hoping we'd get to at least 10 before that kind of stuff happened.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bedtime Shuffle

X-man has trouble calming down to go to sleep. He's had this issue since he was 27 months or so. It was at that time he developed the ability to imagine things in his room like monsters and ghosts. Before then, we'd put him in his bed and he'd roll over and drift off to sleep happily. Almost two years later, one of us still has to lie next to him in bed for him to fall asleep. Some days he's out in five minutes. Most days it take 30 minutes. On rare occasions, we're in there for 2 hours.

Then around 3:30 a.m., when X-man gets up to pee, he runs into our room and climbs into our bed. He's always been a very mobile sleeper. So this isn't restful for anyone.

MacTroll started talking to some other folks about their near 4 year olds. Not very many other kids in our parenting social group appear to have this issue unless they're sick or have had a bad dream. We decided we wanted X-man out of our bed, so we could rest better. Even with my weight loss, a horizontal 42" child that kicks, a 45lb dog and MacTroll and I fill up the king-sized bed pretty quickly.

Earlier in the week, I started the bedtime show down. My child was like a rhino on fire about it. So we worked out a negotiation on both points. He could either sleep in his bed by himself or he could sleep on the floor of our room on a sleeping bag. BUT he had to go to sleep right away. The first two nights were rough. He'd say he wasn't comfortable on the floor (he has a mat under him). I reminded him that he has a big comfy bed in his room, if he'd rather use it. I also offered to tuck him in and give him a kiss and a hug if he needed them, but I would not lay with him.

In response, he rolled over in his sleeping bag and fell asleep. The last two nights he's been really good about coming in, lying down, getting tucked into his sleeping bag and just going to sleep. At some point in the next few months we'll work on getting him solely in his bed. But right now, it feels really good to not have him in ours. I've gone 4 days without waking up to body bruises or a kinked neck or a sore back. It's been heavenly.

If anyone has some ideas on how to get a child to sleep in his or her own bed, I'll take some recommendations.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Fat Ass

Today, I participated in my first Kennekuk Road Runners Trail Run at Kennekuk Cove Park near Danville. The event was called the Fat Ass. The run was broken into lengths... where the Fat Ass was 28.4 miles, Large ass 21.3, Medium 14.2 and Small 7.1 miles. There was also a Baby Ass that was 3.29.

This week was an emotionally heavy week. So I decided this a.m. that I was going to do the Small instead of the Baby. I needed time out and about. I had figured out through other race fliers that headphones are not approved at KRR races due to liability, so I was a little bummed about that -- until I got out there.

In the first two miles I learned lots of new things.

1) Pilates is not needed in your workout routine if you do trail running. The hills are steep and twisty at Lake Mingo and in snow and mud you are often required to use your core to stabilize when your feet slip out from underneath you as you wind through the woods. You also use your upper body to pull yourself up hills via trees or sometimes tree roots depending on the steep and muddy  ups and downs.

2) Trail running shoes might be helpful. So, you might want to heed advise from the expert runners passing you by and be budgeting for those soon.

3) You don't need music because your brain won't hear it anyway. It's too busy trying not to fall off of narrow wooden bridges or planks into the icy waterways below.

4) You don't find it weird when it's just you and an ice fisherman on the path.

5) Trail running requires not just endurance but a fair amount of agility and balance.

6) If someone doesn't say good morning, it's not that they're rude... it's that they're doing the actual FAT ASS and are down to a t-shirt and shorts from the 21 extra miles they're doing that day and don't even register that you're speaking anything but Klingon.

7) Sometimes you use your ass (no matter which one you're running) to safely get down hills by sliding on the snow on your butt.

8) It's always a good idea to bring a complete set of dry clothes with you to change into after the race.

9) Screw speed. The goal is to finish -- alive, without breaking an ankle.

10) No wimps. No bitching. Beer is good. -- These are my kind of people. I hope to partake in the festivities next time!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The best of all cases

Clawdio's ultrasound results came back today. And they came back normal. That is the structure of his heart is good. However, due to genetics, he has one valve that is not closing all the way. Usually this kind of thing is degenerative and we apparently caught it just at the beginning. There's no real treatment for the fact that my cat is getting older and things don't work the same.

So, next week Clawdio gets to go in for his dental to fix his sore tooth. Then every six months we'll go in for check ups and he'll get an ultrasound once a year to monitor his condition, so we'll know when he starts to deteriorate and hopefully prevent him from having any pain and be able to help him with any meds further down the line.

I know a lot of people know this. But getting old is a bitch.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love em, Cause I can't Leave em

X-man has gone insane. He's been a ball of complete emotional breakdown for the last 3 days. He's 3, so it's no surprise that he's not listening. But he's changing his mind about what he wants to do or eat every four seconds and then when I tell him he can't change his mind he shouts in frustration at me.

He wants to keep playing all the time so he doesn't slow down and rest or sleep. It's like a ball of manic energy, plus his appetite has been next to nothing. I thought we'd hit some sort of plateau on the behavior for a while... but now we're back to tantrums and whining.

"Yes, I know you want some of your valentine's day candy. But Fun dip is not dinner."
"I'm not hungry! I'm full!"
"Then you aren't hungry for fun dip."
"Stop talking to me, Mommy!"

His brain is just fried right now. So here's hoping we get through it quickly...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Running, running, running fool

This week I made a concerted effort to get back into the swing of all things fitness for the first time since my surgery. Some things -- like a snow day on Tuesday -- kind of messed with me. It's been frustrating because my pace and endurance have both slowed. But I seemed to have regained the right attitude again. That my running should not be about my time. It should be about the calories I'm burning and how my body feels when I'm done.

There has been one giant side effect to increasing the exercise again. My body wants more fuel, and I've been giving it more fuel, but since I'm in the box, it's been more HMR meals, more protein shakes, more fruit and vegetables. And I'm looking at my calorie intake -- and it's up there this week. Four days of more than 1800 calories. Two days in the 2,000 level. I've been burning between 300 and 750 each day, so it does take it down. But I'm also noticing the scale is registering some water weight issues between all the sweating and drinking, i.e. my body is freaked out again.

So, I don't have high hopes for Monday's weigh in. Sigh. I do have one more week of Blitz left. So hopefully, if it is all water, it'll come and it'll go like the weeks before it. All I know is that I turned 34, had no birthday cakes to readily consume and drank no alcohol... But we'll see what happens. Part of me wants to go to the armory tomorrow and run for a long time. The other half wants to just sit at home and consume vast quantities of liquids to see if I can even out my water retention issues before Monday.

I've decided that doing so will make me sound like some crazy wrestler trying to drop weight before a match though... the problem really is that I was only .4 away from goal last week. And when I saw the number I thought to myself, "This is as close as you're ever going to get." Which is so not the positive framework I need as I work toward the end of the weight loss and really get concentrated on the maintenance aspect.

The fact that I've been slowly going down since entering Maintenance at the end of September is great. The fact that I've lost 20 lbs since then is wonderful. But I still want to see that freaking goal number... So maybe if I aim for my impedance test on Thursday a.m. rather than Monday's weigh in, it'll be a healthier mindset.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Next Generation Primary School Review

This morning MacTroll and I toured Next Generation Primary School in Champaign. X-man has been going to their early education program since he was 15 months old, but I was always ready to send him to public school. I'm a big time public school supporter. Huge, really. But Next Generation is one of the two non-parochial private schools in town, and I was curious to see how it is the same/different than the early education instruction he's been thriving in for the past 3 years.

But I really felt excited and comfortable about the idea of sending X-man to this school. It was similar to how I felt about Southside Elementary tour regarding the intimate atmosphere.

X-man is a small group kind of guy. The Primary School has a 1:15 teacher to student ratio. Primary B-F (1st through 5th grade) currently have two teachers per classroom for 30 students. Primary A (kindergarten) has 2 teachers for 25 students right now. Next year, Ms. Erin says they're planning on having a third teacher and upping it to 30 students making it a 1:10 ratio in kindergarten.

Students have 30 minutes of Spanish, music, physical education, science and social studies at least four days a week. They have art for one hour and 30 minutes once a week to do more established work.

The Music room has a freaking dance floor and is huge. There are instruments hanging off the walls everywhere. They have three music teachers who specialize in different areas and instruments, including an ethnomusicologist. The teachers went "dumpster diving" and the students created their own drums -- that are seriously large and functional -- out of plastic and old tires.

Overall, students are encouraged to work as a community together. They sit at small group tables rather than at individual desks. The rooms all have signs about how education and learning are about taking risks and recognizing that not everyone learns the same or at the same rate. They work with each child based on an individual achievement level. No Child Left Behind and teaching for such tests didn't come up once in the conversation as a level of measurement. However, according to the packet they gave me, they do offer standardized test taking classes for the middle school levels, if requested.

Recess always comes before lunchtime. Recess is 45 minutes long for Primary A students, 30 minutes for older kids. Lunch is then 30 minutes. Primary A students also get a 45-minute lights out rest period after lunch, so if your child is a slow eater... there's no rush to get back to something.

The art and science teachers have their own classrooms versus having carts come to the different rooms.

There is a good level of diversity among students and teachers.

The teachers in every primary classroom will e-mail parents EVERY DAY as to what the school day progress was like regarding academics and social development. Grades are not given at the elementary school level, instead it's more of a unsatisfactory/satisfactory/excelling breakdown based on progress.

Homework is given at a progressive rate. Usually a child in Primary A will have 10 minutes of math or writing homework ONCE A WEEK. Primary B will have 20 minutes of homework in Math or Language Arts twice a week, etc. By middle school they'll have 30-90 minutes of homework on most days, but students also have a 40-minute study hall so they can get work done there, if they choose.

The school runs on trimesters from the last week in August through Memorial Day weekend. They also get the week of Thanksgiving, three weeks over the winter holidays and a week for spring break. The average school day is from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The building was opened when X-man was 18 months old. The classrooms all have a lot of natural light and are structured a bit like his early education classrooms. That is -- they're cozy.

The rub for all of these things that I would put on a wish list for X-man's education comes with the price tag -- $9,500 per year, which makes my heart hurt because I know that x7 buys a hell of a lot of college. But at the same time is $2,000 less per year than the daycare that we're currently paying while I go to school, so we're already kind of used to not having that money.

There is also an assessment process for enrollment that is based mostly on your child's ability to be socially ready for their program. In order to attend, the teachers are looking for readiness to learn and a certain amount of self-control in a group situations. So, I guess when we get to the time they take the paperwork (next December), we'll see if X-man is assessed as a student that would do well in their classrooms.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Clawdio Update

MacTroll and I took Clawdio to see the vet this a.m. His blood pressure was fine, but they couldn't get any urine from him, so he's spending the day on fluids until they can see if the Clavamox got rid of the bacteria issues. On the flip side, that means he's not hypertensive and the hyperthyroid tests came back fine, so he's scheduled for an ultrasound on Tuesday that will get sent to a kitty cardiologist to determine what kind of heart disease he has.

There are two treatable heart diseases but there's only a slim chance that he's got one of those. The most likely illness is Cardiomyopathy. There's not really a good treatment plan for cats. If it's what it turns out to be, he'll go in for x-rays every six months to watch and make sure he doesn't have any extra fluid... and then he'll just live until he doesn't. Kind of like everyone else.

The hard part is that this time we had Dr. Mary, our usual doc. She's very thorough and she noticed that one of his back molars is cracked. It's probably the reason why he's been shying away from eating and showing up for his antibiotics like clockwork. She can't do a dental to remove the tooth until she gets the okay from the cardiologist that it's safe to put him under. So, even if the diagnosis next week isn't good, we're hoping he gives the okay, so she can take out the bad tooth and relieve him of some discomfort and then clean the rest. Because it maybe the last time he's able to go under...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


X-man has been obsessed with jokes. But he doesn't quite get the word play of them. Instead he understands that a good joke is entertainment, and he enjoys being a ham.

I picked him up two joke books from the library. He makes up jokes that make no sense, and I love them. What I like best is that we'll read the joke book, and he'll try to make up his own jokes from the illustrations.

So when you say, "What's a pig's favorite rock n roll song?"
X-man replies, "Dance man!" because that's what he sees in the picture.
(The real answer is "Twist and snout" in case you wanted to know...)

It's like waiting for the switch to flip with potty training. At some point he'll get the play on words.

Or, to my chagrin, he could get his father's sense of humor...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Admitting I have a problem

I'm a control freak. The one thing motherhood has taught me is that since I have no control over the big stupid scary things, I want to have control of all the mundane things. So, when I have to relinquish that control to someone else or the world just decides to tilt suddenly and knock me on my ass, I get annoyed. Sometimes I'm in a better mood than other times about it. I realize there's nothing I can do and just go with the flow. I adapt. I evolve.

Other days I get really whiny about it. And I think the whining and feeling sorry for myself completely makes the whole thing worse. Mostly because I like to think of myself as an overall non-whiner. But clearly, I have my days.

On Friday, I'll be turning 34 years old. Thirty three was a year of major emotional weeding and physical change. I'm hoping 34 is instead a year of self-care taking -- that is, I don't want life to be so harsh on my head or my soul. Thirty three pretty much started with mourning my cat, and it's ending with recuperating from my stupid surgery. And in between were many difficult times for my loved ones.

I know that's the way life goes. But if there is any truth to Karma, I'd like to think I send out way more good vibes in the world and I hope that someone out there is desperately benefiting from them. Because around here, I'm still looking at my people who are fighting tooth and nail as they battle with cancer, lose their jobs, have no health insurance, work jobs they hate purely for health coverage, take furlough days, attend to sick kids, attend to sick parents, try to sell their homes in a wacky economy and deal with uber tight household budgets... I feel a kind of dread about the future, which isn't very Loosey-like.

I'm not an Eeyore by nature. So, tomorrow, I'm rolling out of bed, getting dressed like it's a regular day, taking myself to the gym for Body Blast and getting back to being me. Loveable, Laugh-at-able me.

Everyone okay with that? (The answer better be yes. Remember that I know where most of my readers live.)


Saturday, February 6, 2010

So Frustrating

For the last two nights I've drugged myself with Nyquil in order to sleep through my coughing. I've had a headcold that had decided to move into my chest. Outside of when I'd erupt into fits of coughing while lying down I didn't notice it much, until I went out to shovel my front walk today.

I got to the end of the walk and I was sweating and exhausted. It was like I had no energy. The plan had been to shovel the front walk and then walk over to the rec center to do a short run on the track. Instead, I came back in side, checked on my pork roast in the slow cooker, baked some Cooking Light molasses cookies and then went up to read and ended up falling asleep.

I woke up at 4 p.m. to the smell of the yummy pork roast that's not on my menu, but I will admit tasting. I took a shower, but my body still felt drained. I was really sweaty, which I can't tell is because I got rid of a fever or was asleep in in a sunbeam under a feather down comforter. But when I stood up, it felt like I had low blood pressure because it took a while for the world not to spin.

Fast forward 3 hours. I got tired playing a couple games on the Wii after dinner. I wanted to eat comfort food. I had a molasses cookie, which is also out of the box.

Then I came up to bed, where I'm eyeing my book and thinking, "Where is that Nyquil?"

I just had surgery and was down for two weeks from that. I really don't want to have a cold that turns into bronchitis right after it. So, tomorrow, X-man is going to Chuck E. Cheese with MacTroll for a birthday party. Then, I'm hoping I'll feel better enough to go to the Superbowl party at Libbygirl's. If not, I'll have to send the boys with the drinks and fruit salad. But, dammit, I really was looking forward to just planting myself on their couch and watching football for hours.

I haven't done that since the Ravens were in the Superbowl in 2001. Seriously.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Unsettling cooking adventures

I'm in the box, which means I can only eat foods provided by HMR (my weight management program) or fruits and vegetables. I found a recipe from cooking light that makes spaghetti squash with a cilantro edemame pesto. It's all veggie based. Cilantro, garlic, veggie broth, edemame, salt and pepper. You cook the spaghetti squash (which looks like noodles when it's cooked) and then you toss it with the pesto.

It looked vibrant. It tasted -- okay. Nothing special. Certainly not as good as the spaghetti squash recipe I made with the low fat ricotta and tomato sauce. But it was in the box. Three servings of vegetables in a plate. No gluten. No dairy. No real fat. 233 calories per 1.5 cups of squash and 1/2 cup of pesto.

But now both Joel and I feel nauseated. And a few times I've wondered if it's coming back up. Seriously, it was all vegetables. So what gives? Do we just have a virus that is hitting at the same time, or is it how our bodies are responding to the food?

Yuck. Either way, it's a "perfect food" that I won't be making again. Live and learn, right?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


There are days when I realize I'm an overdramatic, insensitive, foot chewing moron.

And then there are days when I realize that just because my problems may not be as severe as other greater world issues (or even individual issues) of other people, doesn't mean that they're not important to me, and that it's okay to be worried about them, even if they seem superfluous to others.

Usually I feel somewhat grounded in how I conduct my life.

Today, I began the day feeling overdramatic and ended it feeling like I have a strong grasp of the obvious. But tomorrow, I might very well be back to chewing the leather off my shoe. If I do it around you, I apologize. Please try to remember that I'm human.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tired of Negotiations and Badgering

So my three year old has had enough of Mommy being slow. He's issuing demands and whining pretty much any time there's unscheduled time.

For example, yesterday I picked him up from school and took him to the Urbana Free Library. He wanted me to play with him in the Little Tikes Playhouse. I managed to crawl in to play firehouse with him -- but the stitches didn't care much for hands and knees movement. So I told him that I'd have to sit still. A call came into the fire station and we had to get out and get to the truck. I didn't move quickly. I stayed there. He whined about me not playing. When I told him I couldn't, he told me I wasn't sick any more. I had to move. Sigh.

I crawled out and told him I could drive the firetruck (they have benches in a firetruck designed space in the library), but that was it. He sighed this big, pathetic sigh. Then he said, "Maybe we could play at the train table?" I told him yes, but reminded him that I can't get up and down easily or bend over easily. He told me to walk around the table. I told him I needed to bend over to reach the trains. He got upset. "Here, do this basket!" I asked him not to be so bossy. And he sighed again.

Finally, I asked him to play by himself while I found some books and a Scooby Doo video to take home. Then we went home and I fed him dinner. Then while my dinner was cooking I was met with, "Play with me!" And, of course, he wants to play things that require -- crawling around on the floor.

KTDID, thankfully, distracted him for a while, even though she'd had a long day too, so I could cook dinner for us. Then he whined that we didn't need to eat dinner. We needed to play with him.

So for the last 15 hours, I have felt like I'm on some kind of tight rope. I want to play. Normally, I would play. But I'm exhausted. He's played with kids all day. He's gone to a special place and spent time with Mom. He's been fed. Can't he just sit still with a toy and watch TV and chill out like 90 percent of his peers? Just for an hour, so I can eat and calm down? I keep saying NO. He keeps protesting. I stop answering. He starts whining more.

Seriously. I know he's disappointed that I'm broken from surgery. I know he's only 3 and not really understanding of empathy. But it's annoying the 'eff' out of me.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Carrie Busey Elementary School

This morning I toured Carrie Busey Elementary School on Kirby Road near the Mattis Intersection and Old Farm Shoppes. I was running a little late, so I missed introductions but caught up quickly that Ms. Kelly (otherwise known as Zanita Willis) was a gracious and inspiring principal. She was excited to meet with parents and take us around the building.

Carrie Busey is the school that will be moving to Savoy once the new building is built just a few blocks from our house. I believe the estimated building time is to get the school in Savoy built by fall 2011, but as with most building projects... we'll have to see. The school day runs from 8 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and, like my trip to South Side last year, the building was locked to prevent random people from entering. I like this from a safety aspect and at the same time it depresses me. The school of choice focus is on creative writing and literacy, and the partnerships and emphasis on reading are evident in every classroom, in the halls where University of Illinois students are working one on one with students, on the reading recovery room, reading enrichment room and then just a separate reading skills room. The principal also mentioned that only 4 of their kindergarten students this year failed to reach the satisfactory reading level on standardized tests. And since the program has been preforming well for the last four years, she doesn't see a new principal coming in and changing the fundamental parts of how the school has been meeting students needs.

And this was my favorite thing about Ms. Kelly. Every word out of her mouth was student focused, with the support of teachers and then she brought up requirements. She seemed to focus on the idea that if you taught the student well the requirements would come. Rather than using the requirements as a bar that the kids needed to jump over.

I also loved that there were other integrated programs within the building, including one with children with hearing disabilities. The special education lessons were done in small groups in one room, but there were teachers at each table and the ratio to kids was between one teacher to three students to one teacher to six students.

The classrooms at Carrie Busey are currently gigantic. Huge. They make South Side seem very crowded, but they don't lose the intimacy like the ones at Barkstall did. The kindergarten teachers at Carrie Busey have been teaching for over 15 years. And they still, like South Side, emphasize the use of centers (housekeeping, blocks, etc.) for socialization and lifeskill improvement. According to the K teacher, Mrs. Carswell, this isn't a given at every elementary school in the district, but it is an aspect that the K teachers find important at Busey, particularly if they're dealing with a new bunch of kids who may have never been in a school environment or a social environment where working, playing and interacting with others was a norm.

In a nice change of pace, Carrie Busey is using grants to work against the childhood obesity problem. Birthdays are celebrated once a month with special treats. But the focus of all school celebrations, fundraisers, etc., are purposefully activity based fun rather than using food (particularly those of the indulgence kind) to celebrate. So there will be no candy bar sales... The school also provides a weekly introduction to different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Each week a new kind is brought in for the kids to feel, touch and try. A lot of it may be foods children have never seen or tasted before. The biggest challenge is getting them to try something new.

In the music room, children were strumming ukeleles. They didn't look overly excited. The strumming didn't sound particularly cheerful. :-) But I have a feeling they would have been way more excited pretending they were rockstars with guitars. There is a permanent art room in Carrie Busey. The class moves to the art room versus the art teacher visiting rooms on carts. The gym doubles as the cafeteria, and the gym teacher is one of the leaders in the school's focus against the American culture's food fixation. Given the last year of my nutritional commitment, I'm kind of happy to have a school that agrees with the same philosophy of food that I'm trying to instill at home.

Overall, I was satisfied with the idea of Carrie Busey being our neighborhood school down the road. I liked what I saw. Right now, as a Savoy resident, X-man has an 80 percent chance of going to elementary school there, if we choose the public school route.