Thursday, April 29, 2010


MacTroll has been traveling for work since 2002. It's been over eight years of him being gone at least two work weeks a month. And since we had a very long distance romance for six years before we moved in together, and he was a photojournalist (and news doesn't stop) for several years that we were in Northern Virginia, so we're used to having a lot of independence in our relationship.

He's gotten used to eating out, usually alone, for every meal. He's used to having someone pick up after him and wash his towels in hotels. He's used to adult activity. But when he comes home, he's superdad. And truthfully, X-man and I are the ones who have trouble adjusting our schedules to let him back in. Like MacTroll is used to a maid service, free wine and freshly baked cookies in business class and the airport folks in Savoy knowing him on sight and having his boarding pass preprinted for him, X-man and I are used to our own schedules. We know when the other one likes to eat, where we usually go, what's on the agenda for the week and how the bedtime routine is going to go. For the first 36 hours MacTroll is home there's an adjustment -- every time.

April was a crazy travel month. MacTroll's usual every other week got split up into traveling every week at least for three days, sometimes the full five. These situations usually make X-man and I go a bit nuts with each other. So, I start to plan meetups and invite people to dinner so that we're not totally in each other's faces all the time.

But the truth is that we miss MacTroll when he's gone. We don't want that period of adjustment to be there, but it is. And I wonder if we'll ever have a 8 to 5 situation where MacTroll goes to work and is home for dinner and to sleep in his own bed every night. I wonder if he'll ever be free to coach one of X-man's teams or help him with pre-algebra or to teach him to tie a tie. I wonder if I'll always have those kinds of duties because I'm the one who is consistently here.

I guess we're lucky that I'm not completely clueless regarding the characteristics that make a good man. But at the same time, I do not have the required gendered parts to really "model" those behaviors. I guess, he'll have to settle for modeling a good person. And that can't be entirely bad, right?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mommy abuse

My child is spoiled. It's not because he's the only one. It's because up until recently his requests have been pretty low key and totally in the realm of reasonable. Go to the library? -- Sure! Have a piece of sugarless gum -- Sure! Watch a softball game together? -- Why not? Read you a book? Of course. Watch Scooby Doo with you while eating popcorn? Love to! Visit a Firehouse after school and see the trucks? Why not? It's on the way home.

So, when you go for several years getting pretty much the okay to do things, you expect it to continue, right?

But when your requests start becoming dodgy (like wanting to live off Pirate Booty or cut up random things around the house with kitchen scissors) -- and Mommy puts on the brakes, two different kinds of ugly behavior come from my four year old: either the world suddenly ends OR the gauntlet is thrown and war of wills is declared.

And it'll last for HOURS, the whining and complaining. I thought it was bad today, until tonight when we went from constant tantrum to ultra frustration. Giving choices doesn't seem to help. Trying to talk rationally won't work in the middle of heated tantrum because he's not ready to not be all raw and emotional about everything.

Tonight, he was so mad at me, he pretended to shoot me. I got hit or punched several times. He bit my left arm. He threatened to have me thrown in jail or thrown in the garbage and hauled away. (Can you tell he was really mad?)

I asked him not to do something. I explained why I didn't want it done and then asked if he understood what I was asking. He said he did. And then he did it again. I told him that if he did it one more time, I'd take away his Wonder Woman lunchbox of superhero figurines. He freaked out -- and 30 seconds later did what I asked him not to do. So, I snagged the lunchbox and put it up, and, thus, the war began.

After receiving the repeated physical abuse while trying to get him to reset, I declared I was done and marched up to my room, shut and locked the door. He spent 10 minutes throwing himself at the door And then said very plainly, "Please open the door. I want to tell you I'm sorry."

It took 45 minutes to get us to that point. So, I opened it. He ran in and sat in my lap and said he was sorry and hugged and kissed me. Then we left it alone. And the last words he said to me before falling asleep in his tent on the air mattress were, "You're okay, Mommy. You're okay." Then he patted me on the shoulder and fell asleep.

I know he's four and an emotional nut case right now developmentally. I pick my battles carefully. But it seems like there are more and more unreasonable protests coming from the other side lately. I keep trying to emphasize the positive actions, but he seems so quick to do the negative ones all the time. It's frustrating me. It's frustrating him. I'm so effing tired of dealing with it.

Swim, Bike, Run, Swim, Bike, Run

Yesterday, I took part in a mini triathlon. The Tri the Illini is a 300 meter swim, 11-mile bike ride followed by running a 5k. It's my first triathlon event and it was a lot of work. I had terrible nerves all week, particularly since my most recent runs had been kind of slow and pokey. I was also nervous about the biking part, which is new to me. I know when something is wrong with me. I don't know when something is wrong with a bike -- until it's probably too late. I also decided it was silly to drive 3 miles to the event and take my bike out of the car, so I got up a little early and road to the race.

Thankfully, the storms that were supposed to ruin the morning waited until the afternoon to show up. I was dead set against trying to ride a road bike with no tread and skinny tires on country roads with giant potholes in a strong downpour and high winds. (Call me crazy!) So, I didn't say much about participating in this race to very many people, because I just wasn't sure I was going to end up going. But when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and the weather was cloudy, but humid I was overjoyed to feel comfortable participating. It also didn't hurt that Friday's run on the track was awesome, especially after two days of not being able to do much on Wednesday and doing no exercise on Friday.

Since we swam at the ARC 50 meter pool at the University of Illinois, we had to submit swim times for the 300 m and then we were assigned race numbers depending on when we would be called. There were over 300 people in the race, and I was in the middle for swimming -- 150. I stood in line after my warm up. The swim was over in a flash. It took some concentration because we were all so close to each other in time that there wasn't a lot of space to flip at the walls. Instead, you touched and ducked under a lane rope and kept going as fast as you could. I tried to stay to the far right, so anyone who was flying could pass me. But the problem was, I was catching as many people as were catching me, even with the 5-10 second break between swimmers.

When I was done, I ran up the stairs and to the transition area and got on my shoes and socks, shirt and bike helmet and walked my bike to the mounting line and got on. Then I biked. I'm not an aggressive biker. I'm more of a -- oooh, isn't it a lovely day for a tour around town -- kind of biker. So I road my bike and was proud that when people passed, they all were like super cyclists. Thighs that could crack walnuts -- riding on machines that cost THOUSANDS of dollars. Seriously. They looked pretty. But I was okay just peddling along. I passed the people on mountain bikes and a few people, who like myself, had older or more inferior road bikes. But I road, and besides the fact that the streets in our towns are really pretty piss poor, I was happy.

My least favorite part of the triathlon is the running. Funny, since I do it all the time, right? But my problem is that no matter how many times I practice the first 5-10 minutes moving from the bike to the run is hard. It gets in my head -- and confuses my lower back on the right-hand side.. I ended up having to take two walk breaks one during the first mile and one during the second mile because of my back knotting up. By the time I got to the mile 2 mark, it had worked itself into a place where I could run the entire last mile to the finish line without any pain.

I crossed the finish line smiling, took a few steps before bending over to give the woman the chip on my ankle and then walked back to my bike, collected my items and biked home (okay, I stopped at First St. and St. Mary's to open a protein bar because I was hungry).

I still have the permanent marker they used to put my race numbers on my arms and my left calf on. I swear I scrubbed, but it's gonna take a few days.

I have two more beginner triathlons this summer. One with the Champaign Park District and one in Toronto, the distances are a little different, mostly shorter than this one. But I'll have to see if at the end of three, I like it enough to try for a longer one next year.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rain, rain go away

I will know by 7 a.m. tomorrow if the rain is going to ruin all of our outdoor plans for Saturday (including X-man's beloved T-ball practice at 9 a.m. and going to cheer on Big J's soccer team at 11:30 a.m.).

And it's hard, particularly when you're all excited for your fun-filled weekend.

As it is, since the forecast is for thunderstorms, we set up the four person tent in X-man's room. He and MacTroll are currently reading library books on it as they camp out indoors.

I guess if Saturday goes south, I'll be at the gym bright and early.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Food in Bar Form Addiction

So when I first went into Maintenance way back in September, I was so happy to switch from buying HMR Benefit Bars (which taste fine, but don't have a lot of variety) to buying other bars that were cheaper and more fruity. Then I went on a hunt to find various kinds of portable snacks that I could use either as a meal on the go, a mid-day snack or in travel situations.

Below is a list of snacks that I'd go out of my way for... :-) They're mostly high protein, high fiber and low(er) calorie. My problem is that I was worried I was eating more bar food than whole foods (fruits/vegetables) and then when I stopped buying them, I actually ate more carbs via pretzels and goldfish crackers and sometimes just plain toast than I would eat veggies and fruits anyway... So, I'm switching back... as least I know how many calories are in a bar and don't have to sit there and count out my pretzels (which is a degrading process).

The items are in no particular order. They're like children, I love them all equally. You'll notice a lack of popcorn. I'm a big 100 calorie popcorn eater, but I have no brand loyalty. Of course, none of these is as good for you as picking up a piece of fruit... but an apple doesn't have chocolate in it either (which is as much a benefit as it is a drawback :-P)

1. Kashi Go Lean Turtle Roll
2. Kashi TLC Cherry Dark Chocolate Bar
3. Luna Cherry Chocolate Almond Protein Bars
4. 18 Rabbits Chewy Cherry Chocolate (Do you see a particular fruit theme here?)
5. Fiber One Strawberry Yogurt
6. Yoplait Light Thick and Creamy Cherry Cobbler Yogurt
7. Special K Peanut Butter Protein Meal Bar

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Turtle Trot

I am by no means a fast runner. I've always known this, and it was proven again during a training run with Quigs and Special K on Saturday afternoon, where Quigs put on her hare feet and ran like her ass was on fire. While Katherine did her best to shout directions (we were practicing on the last leg of the Illinois Marathon course) to Kelly and keep her eye on me.

When I finished, I'd run my usual 11 minute/mile pace for anything over five miles. My fastest 5k time is a 9:29/mile. But I run 4-5 days a week. Somewhere in my head I think that this should somehow make me faster. I do the speed workouts. I do brick workouts in preparation for my mini triathlons. I do strength training 2-3 times a week and have been slowly progressing my weight increases so that I'm pushing myself but not injuring myself.

My Body Blast instructor, Melissa, said the other day that our bodies are far ready to take on most new physical challenges long before our heads are. And I wonder if my head is some kind of random barrier to improvement.

I'm comfortable at my pace. It feels natural and good to run at it. My body needs no recovery the next day. After Saturday's run, I got up, biked 9 miles in 36 minutes and then ran a mile and a half at 9:50/mile. I felt fine. Nothing hurts. I'm meeting my requirements to burn 2700 calories a week for my weight management program. I'm trying new and different physical activities. I'm trying to keep life interesting so I keep exercising at least 60-90 minutes six days a week. And I'm not bored.

Normally, when I'm not in a state of "self punishment" I'd call this a success and turn over and go to sleep. My goal is always to get my time in, have fun and hopefully improve. But for some reason, I'm bothered by my ineptitude this weekend. I feel like I'm somehow not doing enough and falling behind while also feeling like I'm doing all I can. It's frustrating.

Once I let Special K and Quigs get far enough ahead so I couldn't see them, I calmed down. I felt better. Maybe it's just because I'm so used to running by myself. Maybe this is more about feeling like I'm failing to keep up, rather than just recognizing the tremendous accomplishments I've already made in improving my health. Maybe running needs to be about me getting it done for me... rather than comparing my running abilities to other more fit friends. It's just -- hard to do -- this weekend.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Meet Mr. T-ball

X-man had his first t-ball experience with other children at a Savoy Recreation "Little Sluggers" class at Jones Park this morning from 9-9:45 a.m. He cried when we left he had so much fun. He was also overjoyed that Partner-in-Pre-School Sid was there to be his partner. She's the adorable one in the pink pants in the third photo that is also ducking to avoid getting a tennis ball in the face in the fourth.

All he wanted to do the whole lesson was get to the point where he got to hit the ball off the tee and run the bases. He was the last one to be able to bat in our small group. And rather than take the one base that they offered... he broke free and did all four for a home run. Overall, I was pretty entertained by the pre-school madness, and so happy we waited until he was four to sign him up for something like this. He so wouldn't have had the ability to do very well a year ago... while he was still working his way out of diapers.

We'll be at Jones Park every Saturday at 9 a.m. through May 22. And then we're hoping to get signed up for Little Illini soccer starting in June.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Frustration with Corporate Entities

I have had a lot of frustration this week. Frustration is difficult because the difficulties stem from many levels.

This week, my frustration was with bureaucracy that makes no sense.

Last December I needed to see an out-of-network medical provider. I called my insurance company and got the required pre-authorization to go see the specialist. I got the billing info, the provider's special codes, the whole nine yards. I received my pre-authorization letter in the mail. Then I made an appointment and went to see my provider. In the middle of my pre-authorization, I get a letter that my husband's medical benefits are changing after the first of the year. So, after the first of the year I would need to receive new pre-authorization (i.e. do it all over again) to continue seeing any out-of-network providers. I call up the new 1-800 number because I had two visits scheduled for after the first of the year, and they tell me "no problems."

I get a summary two weeks ago from the insurance company denying my claim for the first two visits I had in 2009... because I didn't get preauthorization.

I figured, "Oooh, it's a mess up, because thanks to my wonderful filing system, HERE is my preauthorization letter."

Alas, it can't be that easy. Apparently, the Mega Clinic I went to see my specialist bill the charges under some other provider's name... a provider I didn't see.

Okay, well, I'll call the Clinic and have them fix it. Alas, the Mega Clinc has some rule about billing under the name of the supervising doctor (whose name I didn't have preauthorization for) rather than the mid-level doctor, and, of course, I saw the mid-level. What can I do?

"Call your insurance company and tell them it's our policy NOT to bill under a mid-level's name, which they should know, and that we're happy to send them a letter from your provider, IF YOU WAIVE YOUR RIGHT TO PRIVACY, to send them the information they're seeking.

So, I call the insurance company who responds with, "You'll need to call your provider and have them give you an itemized bill with your provider's name and the charges on it. Fax it to us, we'll pay what's covered and then you can pay them."

I call the Mega Clinic back (and may I say that the woman who was helping me was very nice. I do not blame her for the large corporate bullshit at all). The woman at the clinic explains to me that it's not just a clinic policy to bill under the supervising professional -- it's a state law. Well, crap. She tells me she's sorry that I'm having to do unnecessary footwork. And what she would suggest I do was to come in and sign off the permission so they can share my info with the insurance company and then give the claims department at the insurance company the name/number and fax number of the poor person at Mega Clinic that spends every day in the red tape and let them duke it out. Because, I, as the patient, met my paperwork requirement when I got pre-authorized.

So yesterday, I went in and signed the paperwork to sign away my privacy, so Evil Insurance and Mega Clinic could get together like two long-time divorced parents who still hate each other while their only child is not in the room.

Then I called the insurance agency and said, "Here's the name and phone number to call and here's the fax machine number."

Because right now I'm sitting on $500 in medical bills to Mega Clinic. And well over half of it should be covered by Evil Insurance, and that's just the first two appointments. I can't wait to see what happens with the second two that were after the first of the year...

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It's no wonder I run. Or I'd punch someone in the face.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Digging in the Dirt

This week X-man and I got the garden beds going. Instead of letting him pick what went into them, I chose things I knew 1) we'd eat and 2) I've actually had success growing before. I also moved around some things that didn't work to try in new places.

For example, last year X-man wanted corn in his garden which is shaped like a whale in the front yard. We had someone come and till and amend the soil, but it's still not great. His corn grew 1' tall. We left the stunted ears for the bunnies and moved on. This year, I moved the corn into the raised beds, which have nothing but good top soil and mushroom compost. I'm betting we get a better response there. I also put hollyhock and sunflowers in X-man's garden.

What did grow well in the crap soil? All kinds of peppers and cherry tomatoes. I'm also trying out strawberries and cilantro. So we'll see how those go. In the raised beds, I have four different kinds of onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potatoes, big tomatoes and spinach.

Can you tell that we eat a lot of salsa?

I have a few more pepper plants to purchase, as well as one more tomato plant and tomato cage. I'm also going to put in three blueberry bushes in the backyard and replace the one in the front yard that got eaten by the bunnies. Someone remind me in September to chicken wire those bushes to prevent wintertime bunny chow down. The good news is the raspberry bush is growing like crazy.

Once everything is in, it'll be time to call for the big dump of mulch. Every year I swear I'm going to replace it with some kind of heavy rock. But the truth is I have a four year old, and somewhere inside my head is a 8mm filmstrip of my child heaving a rock either at me or at my glass french doors...

Why invite the pain? Wood chips don't usually break down doors or send Mommy to the hospital. Maybe when he's 12, I'll rethink the mulch.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hump Day

I've been in an anti-social mood all this week. I'm not sure what it is, but I've just felt like keeping to myself, a lot.

I had trouble falling asleep last night, so I was up until almost 1. Then I was woke at 6 a.m. to grab a shower and get X-man and I ready before I needed to be at work at 8:15 a.m. It must have been kind of early/rough on him, too, because I dropped him off at school at 7:50 a.m. and he apparently took a 2-hour nap today, which is unheard of any more.

I was fine at school for the most part. I started with the fours and then ran down to the 2-3 year old room (I could see Lightning McGavin across the hall eating snack--so freaking cute), but I didn't get to go over and say hi to him. As it was the 2-3 year olds were on some kind of rampage. So, it took all three of us to keep them together.

After work, I ran some signed papers to the accountant that MacTroll had told me we just needed to file at home, but I got a call yesterday that they were supposed to be returned to the accountant so he could actually file our electronic taxes. Ooops. I made a few more errands and by the time I was done, I was starving, tired and kind of sad.

I ate lunch when I got home and then went to my room and put my head down on my pillow. The ceiling fan was on and the windows were open and a nice breeze was coming into the room. I could have fallen asleep, but instead, I chose to watch Glee. The web site froze on me 2/3 of the way into the episode, so I took it as a sign, got up and went for a run. I was going to do my normal 60-minute route, but I got 2 miles into it and overheated. It was 86 degrees outside and my body just didn't want to move. So I gave it until after 3 miles and then I reset my iPod and walked my butt home. I think it was a weather wall. Kind of like when the weather turns cold and your lungs don't want to go. In the heat, my head just died. I was thirsty. My lips felt chapped and I had all this dry crap in my mouth. So I drank a lot and had some fruit at home. Then I showered, did the laundry and took off to pick up X-man.

We were supposed to go to Target to look for sandals and flip flops. But he kind of dragged his feet at dinner, so we ended up going to see the Ultimate Basketball Challenge at Huff Hall first. It was a basketball competition to raise money for the Wheelchair Athletics programs at the U of I and Coaches Vs. Cancer fund. X-man was into the idea that the athletes were still playing the game even from their chairs. He laughed along with the rest of the crowd when U of I players who were not used to being in a wheelchair missed shots. He also got to see the WonderTwins, which was pretty much the highlight of our visit.

Afterwards, X-man didn't want to go home. So we went to Target to look for sandals, but he freaked out when we got there that Target wasn't a real shoe store. So we tried the Tradehome shoes in the mall, but they didn't have any little kid sandals. So we ended up at Gap, where he found two pairs of flip flops for $6 each and a pair of sandals for $25. I used my $20 coupon and we got out of there for $17.50.

We drove straight from Target to the airport to greet MacTroll. X-man was pissed off that security had roped off the stairs and shut down the escalator at the airport (the thinks escalators are like carnival rides). Then after MacTroll got there, he hugged his dad, pushed him toward the baggage claim and told him to go get his bag. When the "warning" lights and horns started going off at the baggage claim, X-man flipped out completely. "Get the bag! Get the bag!" He was afraid the weird black flappy things were going to eat the luggage.

Now we're home and MacTroll has fallen asleep while putting X-man to bed. Today was also our dog Riley's 9th birthday. We sang happy birthday to him at breakfast. He enjoyed a special birthday dental treat snack with his friend Zoe tonight before bed.

Tomorrow is a full day again, so I've got to keep up, which is hard because I feel so far behind.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I am annoying

even to myself.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Even I don't know who I am

I've seen three people I haven't seen since last fall this weekend and one person who identified me, but I for the life of me have no idea who she was.

The three I know had that moment of "who is this? I know this person..." on their faces before their mind clicked and their mouths dropped open. Then a smile spread across their faces. It was nice. I'm going to admit I liked the reaction. So much better than, you know, people slamming doors in your face. But they brought it up, the change in my body. I didn't. And I like to keep things that way. I'm no stranger to knowing everyone before they know me. It happens when you were the editor of the yearbook or newspaper in school. You remember names, mugshots, stories, majors... No one remembers the freshman reporter who calls them up to ask for information about the Nursing Honors Society. :-)

Anyway, the first person to walk up to me and say, "You look fabulous" was to my embarrassment a person I didn't recognize from Westview School. We were there for dinner and the FunFest on Friday night as my friend Freak's child goes there (soon to be two children -- gah!) and she's very active in the PTA. And since I like pizza and games, and my child likes pizza and games, and we're both pretty wild about the Freak family, it was a no brainer night of Friday fun. Freak later told me that the woman who told me I looked fabulous was Mary Jo. Mary Jo, if you're a reader, I'm so sorry that I blanked on your face. But thank you for your compliment. Seriously. Thank you.

The other three were Ms. Hogan who works in the Special Ed department and used to work with me at Curves. Steve the Builder (who built my home), whose son was in the Tiger class with X-man until last summer when he moved up to All Stars, was the second. Our neighbor Hawkgirl, whom I adore and am so happy she just finished her PhD, was the third. When I saw the three I knew, I entered into conversations and just kept talking. It took a beat or two for them to register who I was. And all three of them said, "Loosey, I hardly recognize you."

They're not alone. On Tuesday I worked out at the gym and then sat in the sauna and took a shower there before heading to class. I had my glasses off and as I was turning to get something out of the locker I caught a glimpse of some woman's calves. "I wish mine would look like that," I thought. And then I processed that it was me -- in a mirror. I put on my glasses, blinked a lot, felt stunned and then went ahead getting dressed.

So, if you haven't seen me in a while and then see me out and about and I start talking to you like I know you and you have no idea who I am... it's okay. I apparently can't recognize my own body in a mirror.

That said, I'm heading out to DQ the night before weigh in. :-)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Teaching Day 2

I started working as a part-time, temporary teacher at Mother's Morning Out on Thursday. I've been with the 4's both days, and it's been a lot of fun. I really like the three teachers I've been helping, and today I got to have the orange room by myself as we experimented with what sinks and what floats and wrote about it.

As a Mom, it's nice to see that X-man is really very similar to other 4 year olds out there. He is more emotionally intense when things don't go his way, but he's not alone in that issue. Today, as we were at West Side Park watching the children PUSH EACH OTHER on the swings rather than beg for the teachers to push them. It was awesome. I got to see the 4 year old sweetness up close and personal, which is nice. Particularly when it comes to the girls. In all social situations with 3-4 year olds, I've noticed the boys can't keep their hands and feet off each other. But the girls -- they take are very open about verbally who they want to play with. It kills me when two bonded friends can't make room for one more. X-man had this when he first got into the 3 year room. It was like watching Charlie's Angels... when Farrah moved on into a 4-year-room a lady in waiting finally got to be an Angel, too.

So, it's nice when they bust out the hugs and the nice words and offer to help one another. It gives the class a sense of community and belonging. Two things I know MMO strives to provide.

Overall, I'm really enjoying the program and the students. I'm going to be there three days a week until May 22. Hooray.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Out of the Mouth of X-man

"When I grow up, I'm going to be an ice cream man."

"I want to take a shower in your shower with you, Mom. Daddy can use my bathtub." X-man said.
"You do know I'm married to your father, right?"
"Yeah, but we can switch places," he replied.
"Um, no, you can't."

"I do not want to eat the lamb. It's too smelly," X-man said.
"Just try it. You may like it."
He stares dubiously at the lamb then takes a bite, "Yummy!"
"Do you like it?"
"I'm glad."
"It's good." Long Pause. "Can I have a grilled cheese sandwich?"

"Will sharks eat our house?"
"Sharks can't live on land."
"Because they can only breathe oxygen through the water."
"No, they can eat our house."

"Mommy, you have too many schools."

"I have to go home now. I have to fight crime."

Monday, April 5, 2010

The 10-miler

On Saturday, I ran the Arny Johnson 10-mile race to benefit the Habitat for Humanity in Rockford, Ill. I grew up in Rockford, so I thought it would be a great chance to slip in a run and a family visit for the holiday. The course left from Harlem High School and followed a paved bike trail to Rock Cut State Park. We ran around Pierce Lake on blacktop and then back to the school.

As it turned out Saturday was disgusting. It was humid when we started the run... and then between miles 4 and 7 (just in time for the crazy hills) it downpoured.

I felt really bad for this woman in front of me that was dressed entirely in cotton pants and shirt. By the time we were at mile 8, her pants were 6 inches longer and UNDER her shoes.

It rained so hard that water got into my iPod holder and got the clickwheel wet. One drop was so heavy that it turned the volume up to full, but then the clickwheel was unresponsive to my wet hands trying to turn it down. So I ripped my earphones out so I wouldn't go deaf, which stopped the workout recording. So I'll have to run 10-miles again to see that big bar on my Nike Running Graph spike up. Sigh.

My mom found this photo through a friend of a friend on Facebook who was also running the race. I'm the girl in the center with the coat tied around her waist. From this angle, I look almost fit. Nice. We'll have to see if we can keep the blur theme going. It's like a fitness form of beer goggles. :-)

I finished the race in 1 hour 50 minutes and 53 seconds. I was anticipating a 12-minute mile pace, but I managed a 11:05-minute mile pace, even with the hills (which I'm so not used to) and the rain. At mile 8, a cold wind kicked up, but since I'm used to running in Savoy, I deal with wind. That doesn't mean I don't curse at it while I'm out there... it just means, I've learned how to handle that kind of resistance.

X-man and Orca Master's Good Friday

On Friday, X-man had his friend Orca Master over for the day. As it turns out daycares close for Good Friday, but lots of other businesses don't. So, we were happy to have a friend over for the day. X-man and Orca either get on like besties or they tend to fight like brothers. I was wondering which combo I'd get and I was pretty lucky that the "besties" never turned into "beasties."

Orca got there at 7:30 a.m., so we had some banana pancakes, bacon and melon ready for him for breakfast. They watched some Scooby Doo while they ate and woke up. X-man even shared his blankies.

Then the boys got a big surprise. Bob the Builder visited with Scoop.

So we had to go outside in the sandbox and play with Scoop. 

For lunch we went to McDonald's. The boys ravaged the Play Place and then we headed off to the Sports Petting Zoo at one of the Champaign Rec Centers. Here they are eagerly awaiting the program's start. (The cashier at McDonald's thought they were twins...)

The first sport the boys learned about was fencing. The fencing club doesn't allow lessons until age 8 (gee, I wonder why. :-) But that didn't stop the boys from being pirates with foam swords.

Then they continued on to the Little Illini Soccer Clinic. Here the coach tries to teach the boys to put their hands behind their back and only use their feet. I'm not sure they're sold on that idea, but they did really like putting on the pennies.

By the time Dr. Dave came to pick Orca Master up at the Playground across the street. X-man was lying half on a slide, half on the ground in the toddler park telling people he was dead. And Orca Master was lying on one of the platforms moving bark around with his fingers. They were pretty wiped out. But it was very fun to have them for the day.

There were many awesome moments during the day. But my favorite was when X-man ran into a friend from school and introduced Orca as his best friend. He's never called anyone that before.