Friday, December 31, 2010

No coat day

It is currently 53 degrees on Dec. 31. The piles of snow have disappeared over the last 36 hours. I know it's only going to last for another 24 hours, but it's creeping me out.

At least it's still super windy in Savoy -- so I don't feel completely discombobulated.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Assessment Take 2

Last week I broke the iPower Vo2 assessment machine from New Leaf technologies simply by sitting in a chair with a mask on my face. Today, I was able to do the full assessment.

It was pretty good news. My Aerobic Base, which is the maximum heart rate at which I burn fat as the dominant fuel in my body went from a 141 to a 152. And my Anaerobic Threshold, which is the maximum sustainable rate at which I burned calories (fat and carbs) was a 169. This number was up from a 156 last May. In a perfect world, I'd be able to have an athletic performance that hung around my Anaerobic Threshold during my whole performance. I'll be working on that one for a while...

The good news is that I can run harder, longer and still burn fat at a higher heart rate. I got a giant high five from Jeff, who ran my assessment. This is reassuring as I'm hoping to enter the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Florida at the end of September. I can't register until February. Given my current medical issues, I thought it might be good to give my body some time to adjust, and I want to make sure I'm taking it slow and steady. Keep training. Keep sweating.

I checked out Born to Run by Christopher McDougall from the library the other day. I guess I was expecting it to be this manual on how to run barefoot. But so far, it's actually reading as a really fun adventure travel journal. My favorite aspect of the book is that the author (and several of his medical care providers) clearly state that people with his body type weren't meant to be distance runners.

He found running later in life (40) and enjoyed it and wanted to keep doing it and improving. But in the five years he'd been running he'd "ripped my hamstring (twice), strained [his] Achilles tendons (repeatedly), sprained [his] ankles (both, alternately), suffered aching arches (regularly), and had to walk down stairs backward on tiptoe" from sore heels... But McDougall wasn't a fitness novice when he started running. He was the "Restless Man" columnist who did extreme adventure sports to write about them. He was also a wartime correspondent for AP and spent some time in some dangerous parts of Africa. So he's not a wuss. He did all of that without ever hurting himself. "But jog a few miles down the street, and suddenly I'm rolling on the ground like I'd been gut shot by a drive by."

And he states that in any other sport, that kind of injury rate would kill his chance at success, but in running, injuries like this are -- Normal.


Thank goodness for the bike at the gym. And, yeah, I really gotta get back to the pool once a week... And maybe I'll just head on back to spend some time with Garin at iPower this month while I'm starting the 12-week workout program that Jeff gave me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yellow belts and Nyssa

I got the nod from Master Hyong today. X-man is scheduled to take his yellow belt test -- Feb. 12. What an awesome day for a test! Hopefully, there will be a lot to celebrate. :-) It'll have taken him six months to master. Think about the last thing it took you months to master practicing 5 days a week and going to class 2-3 times a week. I mean, this is like when I freaking managed to somehow NOT fail second semester Algebra II in high school. You'd think with all the time and effort I put into it, my teacher put into it and my two freaking tutors put into it I'd have gotten an A. Alas, I got a D+, and I was more proud of the effort I put into earning that grade than I was of the six A's on my report card in the classes where everything came easy that semester. Well, I was 16 and had college as a motivator... now imagine being 4.

I'll give the Facebook shout out when he's for sure got it -- and then if you guys wouldn't mind praising him like crazy, I'd really appreciate it.

In cat news, another cat seems to have become susceptible to the elderly cat diseases. Nyssa had been sneezing over the holiday and not eating much. So MacTroll took her into the vet today. She's not so good at the vet -- when we're not in the room. They checked her over for upper respiratory, but although she's still a bit congested, they think it's related to being a bit dry in our house lately. Unfortunately, she's lost a pound in weight since her physical in July. Her blood work came back abnormal. So, we're taking her back in next week to do a follow up blood test (She was so not doing well after the examination and was putting up a pretty nasty fight with the vet techs) that will mostly likely confirm that she has hyperthyroidism.

So the pet scorecard looks like this at our house:
Clawdio, age 13, stage 2 heart murmur, pancreatitis, feline herpes and beginning stages of kidney failure.
Nyssa, age 12, arthritis in the hips and probably hyperthyroidism
Luke, age 10 1/2, still voted most likely to either somehow get eaten by a hawk, even though he's an indoor-only cat or to run repeatedly into a wall head first until he suffers brain damage from chasing flies.
Maya, age 9 1/2, chronic cystitis, random BB lodged in her spine
Riley, age 9 1/2, the only dog, heart murmur, significant fall seasonal allergies when they take in the crops

It's not easy watching them all advance in age. They were all young adults when we got them, and as of this April, we'll have cared for all of them for over a decade. I only hope we're loving them as well as they've loved us.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why? Why? Why?

You know, I thought it was annoying when Elmo kept asking the question. Little did I know that his repetition would become endearing once my kid started repeating that three letter question. Mostly because when he does it, it's with a whine, and he's wondering why his mother or father is being the most unjust son of a bitch on the planet.

But why can't I have a pixie stick AND ice cream with gummi bears and gumballs? Really? I mean, truthfully, it probably doesn't make much sense. Here kid just have it. But for some reason, I drew the line and said no. He was already having freaking Marble Slab, did he need the crappy candy, too? I mean, really?

And I'm not saying the four ugly words I heard so often in my childhood -- "Because I said so." Instead, I'm saying, "Well, fine then. We're going home." It's pretty much the same thing. But for some reason I feel like more of a bitch actually telling him a plan rather than living it open ended.

Today, MacTroll picked up X-man and took him sledding on Colbert Park hill. Apparently, there were two sledding incidents. One with an older high school age kid who thought he broke his leg and then another with a mother and daughter who slid down the west side of the hill into a parked car. MacTroll said she ended up going in the ambulance. I hope they're both okay.

After sledding, he brought X-man home. X-man took 10 minutes to tell me all about the excitement. Then he threw a FIT because MacTroll was taking care of some household crap while I started to make dinner. "SOMEONE HAS TO PLAY WITH ME!!!!"

Wait, wasn't your father just on top of a hill with you for an hour? And aren't we going rollerskating with your friends immediately AFTER dinner.

X-man has a total case of the gimmes. He's also feeling really needy lately. Quigs invited him over to spend the night. So I brought up the idea tonight at dinner. At first he was really excited about getting to sleep in Bubba's room. And then he found out that I wouldn't be there and he backpedaled. I explained to him that it was okay that he wasn't ready to sleep over (although he's slept over alone at my dad's house plenty of times), and that we'd see Bubba and Pretty Girl on Friday so he could be sure to have playtime with them. That quieted him down a bit.

Until it was time to go rollerskating and I got my skates. He outgrew his Fisher-Price ones, and MacTroll and I both agreed that he needed to try out the experience without brakes helping him keep his balance. He cried all the way there about how he didn't want rental skates. And then he got there and saw his friend Jacks from school and that she didn't have skates and that his friend Ike didn't have skates and suddenly, he was okey dokey.

He was so tired from the rest of his day, he couldn't take his eyes off of what everyone else was doing and kept falling down, even with us holding his hands. So, he went off to play some games, in his skates, with MacTroll while I visited with some CARE friends that I hadn't seen in way too long. Then Lightning McColin arrived and X-man was happy -- until he saw him skate. Lightning McColin is a very good skater, so is Ike. They ran off in their skates to have some fun. X-man couldn't keep up. He threw himself to the ground in a fit of self pity. Then I told him that skating took practice like Tae Kwon Do. And very smartly he replied, "I don't have enough energy to try that hard tonight."


For the past two nights, MacTroll has had to go into X-man's bedroom and REtuck him into bed. Telling him to close his eyes and lay still, because our constantly moving maniac can't seem to remember how to put himself to sleep.

MacTroll looked at me tonight as I was making dinner and X-man was whining about being neglected in the living room. "Doesn't it feel like he's been four forever?"

Five will come soon enough... Me -- I'm just happy neither of them cracked their heads open on the sledding hill.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Relearning what I know

I went to class at weight management kind of down today. Not because of my weight or the fact that I was in a post-holiday blah, who cares, kind of mood, but because I was feeling lackluster in my maintenance battle.

This time of year gets people down, and then they seem to make unrealistic resolutions to try and prop themselves up so that next year will be better. I hate New Year's resolutions. I despise the sudden surge of people in my gym. I am annoyed at how people covet their resolutions and then start making up excuses when things don't work out.

And the hard part is, that I believe in positive talk. I believe the nicer you are to yourself and the more encouraging you are to yourself, the more likely you are to succeed in whatever your goal is. My problem is that most of the people that I know that practice nice talk in front of me are really beating themselves up with a metaphorical (and sometimes not so metaphorical) hammer. It's ugly to watch, and it's senseless to take part. Because after the couple weeks of, "This time, I'm really going to A, B, C..." Comes a "Well, at least I'm still, blah, blah, blah." Followed by "It's hopeless. I'm just not built that way. I am what I am..."With some people you can give them a pep talk and watch them reset and respond. With others, they're just not ready to make a change yet.

After my hour-long class today, I felt better. I want to thank the folks in my weight management program for showing me that no matter how old we get, we can always work for a better, healthier existence. I'm consistently the youngest person in my class. I'm one of the smaller people in my class. Since entering maintenance I have found out that my life-long battle is going to be going up and down the same 10 lbs, mostly because of emotional eating, but sometimes because of physiological cravings, too. That's my battle now. Like any other person with a life-long illness, my obesity sticks with me in my brain forever. I might have a 21% body fat number, but the habits that got me there are lurking. The other people in my class are, on average, 20-40 years older than I am. They are mostly female, post-menopausal. We have a lot of nurses and professionals. All of them smart and vibrant people. All of them have issues with food control. Some of them dread exercise. I have members in my class who have been coming every week for 26 years.

Like so many people, we know what to do, but we don't always follow our brains. We follow our passions, our impulses, our cultural heritage. We do our best. Today's statistic was that 95 percent of people who lose weight as a New Year's resolution end up gaining it back, usually because they have no constant support or accountability. That statistic sucks, and it's scary. The HMR research and Journal on Obesity shows that for folks in a program where a person continues to go to class each week, the chances of gaining back at least 1/2 of the weight lost drops to 60 percent. It's still a high likelihood of gaining it back.

Let's face it. Menopause doesn't do women any favors, either.

Liking yourself and accepting who you are and what you are willing to do to change your life in hopes of living longer -- for your own benefit is crucial. Some people say they do it for a spouse or a child or a grandchild. But I really believe if you don't love yourself, you'll never be happy, even if you lose 100 lbs. At the same time, making choices that are known to decrease your life (not wearing a seatbelt, binge drinking, smoking, drug use, morbid obesity, etc.) show ways that we, as humans, use unhealthy crutches to try to keep up enough momentum just to get ourselves out of bed in the morning or get us through a bad day at work, or through a difficult family gathering.

We use our vices to celebrate, to mourn, to control our  moods. They become part of our lives. They are a constant through our whole lives when people fail us. For me, food got me through a low self-esteem as a child, fear of social isolation, my parents divorce, bad break ups, academic frustrations, being called names in school, my grandparents' death, economic woes, family and friend difficulties, and a forever feeling that I am somehow broken and unable to really emotionally connect to very many people in this world.

I am human. I make mistakes. I spent 20 years making New Year's resolutions to lose weight and be healthier. Mostly I just wanted to look pretty, honestly. I thought if I looked pretty, people might like me more. Ironically, I feel more socially divided now than I did when I weighed 250lbs.

But I also know that I ran 7.5 miles today at a 10:30 minute pace. I know that I wrote down my food and exercise for the week. I know that I attended class. I also know that I have to lose 3 lbs to get back in my healthy range after cookies and truffles and a few cocktails last weekend. I can do that over the next three weeks, no problem. But when I look at myself in the mirror, what I love isn't the body that I earned. It's the self-esteem that says that I'm worth the considerable effort and determination it takes to keep up the healthy skills I learned in my class, to keep working out, to keep recordkeeping, to keep working to make better choices.

Instead of resolutions, what I hope everyone strives to achieve is the ability to look yourself in the mirror and know that you are amazing not because you have a great mind or body or soul... I want you to take care of all three entities equally. You are fighting the good fight, and you do it one tiny mini-goal at a time, rather than a giant, steep goal that will only end up discouraging you down the line.

My big goal is training to be able to run 10 miles in shoes. (I'm up to 5.5 miles.)  My mini goals relate to making sure I get my workouts in day by day, week by week, to keep me focused.

Xman's big goal is to get his yellow belt in TKD after 4 months of trying... He has difficulty with some of the moves. So we have to take goals move by move. Two weeks ago, he mastered the front stance by practicing with me 10-15 minutes, per day for 5 days a week. Last week, he mastered the back stance. Now we're working on putting the two of them together. Then we have to do the arm movements, and a twisting kick... And hopefully, hopefully, he'll be okay to take his yellow belt test in February. He's working so hard, and when he tells me he's done and he can't do it -- I ignore him. Then the next morning, I say, "Hey, wanna do Tae Kwon Do?" He jumps up, assumes the attention position and goes through the movements with me for high fives and hugs. He also tells me he WANTS to go to class.

He continues, because I continue. He is my accountability and I'm his. Who knew I'd get so much support from a four year old? :-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Thank goodness tomorrow is Monday. I've done nothing but binge and sleep this long weekend.

Wait, isn't that what vacation is about?

For those of you who think I'm some weird militant exercise and food maniac... I went off the wagon this week -- and loved it. Now I've got to concentrate and climb back on.

The 7.5-mile run I put off today until tomorrow should be a rude awakening tomorrow morning.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lego my Christmas

Can you tell my child has a parent that travels, an obsession with Legos and a father and a grandfather who are happy to indulge by not only supplying said Lego vehicles, but by spending all day on Christmas helping to put them together? The old Thomas train table has now become "Lego Airport" now if only Lego made hangars for both the regional jet and the big plane. :-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bowling on Christmas Eve Day

In the summer, my friends who are also parents are always on the move to the pool, to the park, to baseball games, etc. In the winter, everyone is always trying to come up with new and different ways to keep kids physically busy when outside conditions get ugly.

Every day that X-man isn't in pre-school, and sometimes on the days he is in pre-school but they don't get to go outside, I'm scheduling gross motor time.

Yesterday, I decided today's gross motor time should be bowling at Old Orchard Lanes. Today, we took my mom and met up with Special K and and Rudy's families. The boys all bowled, so did some of the parents and my mom. It was a fun time. And when we got home, X-man was able to spend two hours of quiet time with his Legos and helping me make chocolate chip cookie dough truffles (holy cow, are they good).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Good Morning!

I rolled over expecting to see my spouse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I was scheduled to go to iPower for a follow up Vo2 assessment this a.m. Well, let's get this straight, I fasted. I avoided exercise for 24 hours. I didn't drink caffeine or alcohol. I was on time. I did my part. Jeff took my body fat measurements, which were awesome. I dropped to 21% body fat on the calibers from 23% last May. But when we got me all hooked up with my mask, the software crashed -- three times.

So, he called the support line, who told him to send in the history records and to send me home. Bummer for Jeff, because it's totally the busy season.

I tried to run this a.m. without having breakfast, but I couldn't focus. I don't care if the NY Times reports that the Journal of Physiology says that my body burns fat better and my appetite is curbed if I exercise before eating. My brain needs the carbs to will myself to keep going. So, I did a quick 3 miles and came home to my oatmeal and a banana.

Now, I'm off to the shower and then to Decatur to see my friend Captain Patrick for lunch. Twice in 8 weeks, we're setting some kind of record. :-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Adventures with Mousehunter Jim

After having found 7 mice (4 killed by cats, 3 alive and scurrying) in the house in one day last week, I broke down and called Terminix. Eric, the service guy, went over with me where I was noticing the mice, scanned a bit in the rafters of my basement and behind appliances in my kitchen and then explained to me their service program. Where, year-round, they would come and make sure things like mice and giant spiders were not crawling into my house. (I know Quigs will be very happy to hear this.)

Then, I don't have to worry about looking for holes. It's their job. Win/Win. So, today, Mousehunter Jim came to my house. He spent from 10:15 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. doing nothing but sorting out where the mice were getting into the house. Apparently there are pre-fabbed boards that have holes in them to run pipes and wires through that then the builders cover up with insulation, which mice say "Weeeee warmth!" about before they chew through it, cuddle into it, have a zillion babies and then when they shred that insulation apart, they crawl through the unfinished parts of the basement to make new nests. So, he pulled out the shredded insulation filled with feces and filled in the holes with wire mesh and caulk that the mice won't chew through in fear of cutting up their sweet little brown rodent faces. He found a lot of those holes. Hooray, new construction.

Then he went through the basement areas looking for holes that showed "daylight" in the house. He'd identify a spot and thump on the floor until I could move whatever was in the way to identify where that space was coming through. Things like the gas pipe going up to the laundry room behind the litterboxes where a mouse could crawl up, should he be living in the basement, or the water hoses going up from the basement to the refrigerator, etc. Jim was very thorough. Then he went out and sealed up any holes leading into the garage, and he set some covered bait traps out there.

It was clear that Mousehunter Jim was very serious about his work. He was also very good at educating me on things to look for in the house. He'll be back when the snow melts a bit to do a more thorough job looking for weak spots on the outside of the house, but we should be pretty good for the winter. Better than that, if I have any problems, I have a direct phone line straight to Mousehunter Jim. He'll come to the house and take care of whatever I need him, too.

If Jim is the Mouse God. I'm like the Pope of Mouse killing with my direct line.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I have gone crazy

I did it.

I bought -- a bikini.

I know. My chin just hit the floor, too.

Which one?

What does it look like?

Well, on a professional model it looks like this picture.

On me, it doesn't look as good. :-P

Maybe I'll feel more kick ass about it by June. Of course, if I wear it to Sholem, even if it's terrible looking, I'll fit right in -- right?


Sunday, December 19, 2010


I like to plan.
I like to make lists.
I really like to check things off of my list.
I like when I can find things.
I like when I know where I'm going when.
I like when people ask me to do things and I know what days I'm free.
I <3 organization.
But I'm also happy to do things on the fly.
I am able to be spontaneous.
I can adapt.

But 90 percent of my life is planned. Maybe it's because I have a child. Maybe it's because I have a spouse that travels. Maybe it's because I am an active person who has to have killer time management skills to do all the things I want to do in my life. Maybe I just like writing things down...

I've noticed lately most of the people in my life don't live their lives this way. Mostly, they live inside their homes. Mostly, they have work obligations and family time and then everything else is, "whenever." I've had three people tell me lately that they wish they had it more together like I do. That they're children or spouses will make comments about how I will know something that their parents don't. And I'm flattered that people think I'm a resource and -- on top of things. But I've also had people tell me that they totally get self-righteous vibes from me that are off putting. I used to go out of my way to reassure folks that just because I live my life a certain way, doesn't mean I judge others for living differently. I'm not a judgy person at all.

But what I've found is that it does little to ease their minds, or make them want to be my friend. I like who I am. I like how I live my life. I hope other people enjoy how their lives and have accepted their preferences and foibles, and like me enough to forgive or at least be amused by mine.

That being said, I'm currently plotting running courses through Paris for February trying to avoid streets with too many cars and happy that they close some of the roads so I can run my weekend long run along the Seine on Sunday. I love the Gmap Pedometer.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Words: When They're Cheap and When They Matter

X-man and I read the book Library Mouse last night. I picked it up for him down at the Tolono Public Library this week. It's apparently a series of picture books we're going to have to keep reading. The first one was all about a little mouse named Sam, who lives in the library and decides one day after reading and reading and reading books that he's going to write one of his own. So he does. He puts it in the biography section and a child finds it. Then he writes another one. Pretty soon the library is in constant surprise and excitement about these wee little books that show up everywhere. So, the library leaves a note out for Sam the mystery writer to come to a "Meet the Author" event so the children can get to know him. But he's a mouse. And that idea scares him. Instead, he ends up leaving a surprise for the children so they too can become authors.

X-man was very excited about the book. It was a great representation of how words can encourage and support other people.

But words can also infuriate you. Yesterday, MacTroll and I were at our financial planning office. We had just switched planners because ours took a full-time job closer to her home in Mahomet. I liked our last one. She was a Mom. She got how things worked. The new one hadn't met me before. And -- um -- he made a giant mistake in the first 10 minutes of meeting me. He started going over our portfolio of investments and various ways we should move money around and think of protecting ourselves through various insurance policies.

We were looking at life insurance policies. Recently in open enrollment at the Fruit company, we upped my life insurance coverage on the suggestion of our old financial planner. Because to replace me, if I died, would be expensive if MacTroll kept his current job. It would require someone like a live in Alice from the Brady Bunch or Mrs. Livingston from the Courtship of Eddie's Father. Maybe MacTroll would have to move closer to family in Balitmore, etc. These are thoughts no one likes to have, but she had a point.

New guy, I'm going to guess because he's a guy... basically said that I was financially unimportant. Nice, huh? But MacTroll, he's worth blah, blah, blah, blah. It's not like I didn't spend years in therapy when we made the choice to move here trying to weigh out and get comfortable that I pretty much gave up my career to focus on my marriage because our careers were totally ripping us apart from the inside out. I sucked it up. I thought I'd only suck it up for a couple of years, MacTroll would get tired of traveling and that would be that. But that never happened. Then we had X-man, and I saw a great need for me to be at home more to offer him a certain amount of stability. So, when I can, I've had temporary part-time jobs pretty much everywhere: The Champaign Public Library, teaching at Millikin University, working at Curves, and substitute teaching at Mother's Morning Out.

You don't have to tell me I don't make a lot of money. I get my Social Security update every year, and have slowly watched my financial contributions to the household go down, down, down, down each year. And the more MacTroll travels, the more our family likes to have its freedom to pick up and vacation to get in some quality time. Because sometimes being in this house drives me mad, and X-man is a traveling dream.

I shouldn't have gotten so bent out of shape about it. And clearly the guy noticed my reaction to his words, because instead of withdrawing and glaring, I became more involved. I leaned forward. I engaged, and I didn't take my eyes off the guy. In response, his hands were shaky, but not nearly as shaky as his speech. He had trouble finishing sentences, operating his computer, etc. Yeah, I know he's used to dealing with people nearing retirement not people in their 30s. But I made him nervous -- and all I had to do was be me. I never thought of myself as intimidating, but apparently, according to MacTroll, I can be. But really, he just should have said, "Loosey's life insurance is looking great." And then gone on to talk about increasing MacTroll's.

When words don't matter is when I'm sitting on the couch watching my child make transformers out of his Legos. He's never seen the show, but he gets enough info from other kids in his life. The Decepticons are currently taking out a hotel and the Autobots are coming to save the people in it. Of course, he had to take apart all of his advent Legos to make the Autobots. Why he couldn't use his giant bin of legos, I don't know. I'm watching him build, create and engage. He looks up and notices me staring at him. I smile. He smiles. Then he puts down his Legos and comes over to get a hug, and back to Legos he goes. In Toddler studies, we referred to this as the check-in.

Words also don't matter when you're sitting at a Holiday Pre-school show with your husband and your child is so totally into his dance moves that he jumps up and SHOUTS THE WORDS while he does one of the moves, realizes he's been really noisy, looks embarrassed, but then notices his parents staring at him in delight and gets back to his dance -- because we're clearly proud. Then there's the silent hand from your husband that immediately slides over your knee and squeezes.

The people you can interact with wordlessly are few and far between. When the quality of the relationship transcends needing to be verbal most of the time, there's a definite connection, even if your conversations are extraordinarily verbose. As it is, this blog entry is far too long... Next time, I'll just put up a single photo. :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bare Running

This fall I started running barefoot as soon as I was released from physical therapy. Barefoot running is a trend right now. The theory being that before the invention of the fancy cushy running shoe people used to wear crap shoes -- or no shoes -- to run. Running shoes often require a heel strike, where as when you run barefoot, you land in the middle of your foot and roll to the heel.

There has been no scientific evidence that running with shoes or running without shoes has any real advantage. Some people hurt themselves in shoes, some people hurt themselves barefoot (or in bare shoes like Vibrams Five Fingers). Running form and ability, like most things, is very subjective, it would appear. I began running short distances without shoes and then purchased a pair of Vibrams from REI to protect the bottoms of my feet. I have no interest in blisters or burns or cuts. I like my feet. I take them to pedicures whenever possible to pamper them (i.e. I'm a big wuss).

But since coming inside to run, I'd been doing short runs (2 miles) in my Vibrams or in socks and long runs  (3 miles or longer) in shoes. Last week, I set a personal best running a 10k -- the first two miles were in shoes, and then as soon as I began to feel fatigued and wanting to quit, I took them off, walked 200 meters and then ran 4 miles in my socks. My speed immediately adjusted to a 9:30/mile, the speed I ran my first mile at with shoes. By the end of mile 2, my speed in shoes had slowed to 10:15/mile. My speed without shoes never went above a 9:50/miles, even when I was tired and slow the last 1/2 mile.

One of the reasons I like barefoot running is that the change in form appears to take all the pressure off of my left knee (where I have tendonitis) and the degenerative disk disease I have in my lower back. I feel no pain. It does load my calves a lot more, though. So Tae Kwon Do (which is mostly done on your toes) suffers a bit the day after a barefoot run.

My goal is to be able to run in the Disney Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon in October 2011 with my friends Sara and Christa. Registration doesn't open until Valentine's Day. But I'm really excited about it. You run your half marathon at 10 p.m. So by the time you finish (let's say I'll be done by 12:30 a.m.) they open up Epcot for a big after run party... Sounds like a good time to me. :-)

Now, my challenge -- being able to run 13 miles IN SHOES. Because I don't think I'll be able to handle 13 in Vibrams. But changing it up so I'm able to train to do both, can't hurt, right?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Makes Me Do Stupid Things

We're staying home for the holidays this year. My mom and her dog Coconut are headed down our way the Thursday before Christmas and are staying until that Monday. But we weren't going to see my father or stepmother or my sister, so we decided we'd meet up in Rockford on Sunday.

Sunday -- during the blizzard like conditions that existed between our home and theirs. And like crazy people, we piled in the car with our child and our dog and we drove to Rockford. We'd driven through crappy weather before. We remember one trip back from Chicago on our way to pick up the dog where we watched six semis, two RVs and four large pick ups fall off of Rt. 57 in the snow, while our plucky VW Golf got us home on the highway, and with some creative navigating got us out to pick up Riley at Doggies on the Farm and back home. That was a 4-hour drive from Chicago which was usually two  and a half.

Yesterday was the 4.5 hour drive to Rockford, which is usually 3. The worst of the trip was from Bloomington to Mendota. It's a long hour and 15 minute strip. Every time we went under an overpass, we'd lose any visibility. A couple times, we found ourselves a group of folks and just hung behind them using them to light our way like Rudolph. Then the wind would clear (because let's face it accumulation wasn't a problem the 50 mph wind was) and we'd pass them and then end up on our own again. If we pulled over, it was going to have to be at a hotel because we had the dog -- so we just kept going -- slow and steady.

MacTroll's response when we arrived in Rockford, "You're right -- we should have stayed home."

The one bright part of the trip, besides the fact that we still really love how our RAV-4 performs in winter weather was that I found the App called Glympse, which let me e-mail and facebook a live map of where I was so that family and friends could see it. I knew my mother would totally dig thing -- and she did. I can also apparently use it when I'm on my run routes, which could come in handy for things like running the half marathon in Florida next October with my friends Sara and Christa.

My sister gave Joel a book about sustainable meat for Christmas that he really likes. She also gave us some rabbit to go with it. I've never cooked rabbit, so I'm reading the book and looking in some of my other cookbooks for some ideas. Anyone know how rabbit tastes? It might help me decide how to prepare it.

Tomorrow is Errand Tuesday. You name it, I'm doing it. Recycling batteries at Anita Purves, donating towels to my vet, dropping off my petitions to be on the Tolono library board, finishing stocking shopping, donating some household things to Goodwill, buying a space heater... fixing the Christmas lights that the 50mph wind tore down from the front porch... and finishing MacTroll's Christmas gift, which requires a trip to the art store for a certain utensil.

Our possible trip to Calfornia in January just got canceled. The two-week gig MacTroll thought he might have to do got canceled. So, we're going to try to reschedule our 3-day Chicago trip (with trip to Ikea). I also bought a beginning climbing pass for the climbing place in Bloomington that I need to use. So we're looking at weekends to head that way. :-)

A special happy birthday to three of my favorite friends who are having birthdays this week. You're all younger than me, so you know, I'll save a place in hell for ya. :-P

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Date

MacTroll and I went out on a date tonight. It was pretty fantastic. I had to get a quick run in at the Rec Center beforehand. So while I showered and got ready, he ran X-man over to their Parent Date Night from 5:30-9:30 p.m. It was his first one and he loved it because he had several friends from the neighborhood and apparently from school who were also there. I liked that it was $15 for the whole 4 hours.

Meanwhile, MacTroll and I headed to Boltini for dinner. We have two $25 gift certificates that we purchased some time ago through They don't expire, but they're also for food and non-alcoholic beverages only. We had some stuffed dates that weren't as fabulous as the ones over at V.Picasso (so sad they're closing on Dec. 12), but were still pretty yummy. Then I had the Ahi Tuna salad and MacTroll had a Butcher Block sandwich. I did indulge in one raspberry truffle martini after dinner. It's my favorite drink around town so far. But there's a strawberry blonde there I need to give a go one of these nights. We used one of the certificates and got out of there for $15, minus tip.

We spent a lot of time deciding where to go. We were too dressed up to go do something like -- bowling. But we were hours too early for anything that might be exciting that was happening around town. And the truth is, when you have kids, everything has to be planned. You can't just call people up and say, "Hey, meet us downtown for drinks" like you could in your twenties. Yes, I know that I just referred to a decade of time period -- which makes me officially old at 34.

Instead of wandering around in the sub-arctic wind (Boy, am I glad I wore leggings and a sweater dress), we went back to the car and went to the grocery store where we did something we hadn't done in a long time. We bought a box of brownie mix. The leaded Ghiradelli goodness... We baked brownies when we officially became a couple. We baked brownies after prom night at his parents. We baked brownies after I got pregnant. Truth be told, there hadn't been any brownie baking in a while. I suggested it. MacTroll got excited. So we added some Ben and Jerry's to the top.

After our brownies were in the oven, we kept baking. We tossed out a bad bunch of dough to make Gingerbread Dinosaurs from Cooking Light. (I have NEVER gotten a decent dough out of them and I'm a pretty proficient baker.) And then, we made the sugar cookie dough forms. We decorated one batch and left the other for X-man to do after we picked him up.

Tomorrow, we're supposed to head to Rockford to see my Dad. Except between here and there is an effing blizzard warning. Great. Fabulous. We were supposed to go out with neighbors tonight who we'd invited out two months ago, but their sitter canceled. So it was just us and X-man was already excited about the Rec Center, or I suppose we could have just packed up this afternoon and driven up there. Except, in a trend that is continuing, I get completely worn out around 2 p.m. and only make it through the day by taking a 1-2 hour nap.

So, we'll see if tomorrow's family Christmas with my dad and my sister happens.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lice, Mice and Elderly Animals

Four students in the Next Generation All Star building have lice. This is a big thing, apparently. Lots of parents with the willies over the bugs in the hair. Lots of crossed fingers hoping to avoid the medicated shampoo and combing involved by not only parents, but the teachers who are checking hair every day, particularly for one of X-man's teachers who had lice once -- when there was a breakout at school. And she got it from checking heads. :-)

Other annoyances that we're currently keeping an eye out at our house also include: mice. The temperature dropped to single digits, so we've found mice in the house. We back into a field of soon to be empty housing lots that backs into a corn field. Once they start building the neighborhood behind us, this issue should go away (it happened in our last house, too). But until then, I have Maya and Luke going after the suckers. Whenever we get a live one, it goes into the blue garbage bin. It'll either live off our garbage and find it's way to the landfill OR it'll freeze to death. I try not to think too much about the life/death situation and which would be less painful -- being toyed with by a cat until death or freezing in a garbage can. Personally, neither seem very exciting to me. But it also means, that I'm constantly washing out things that they figure out ways to crawl into -- like the drawer under the stove that is empty. 

Yesterday, I took Riley in for his first doggie dental. He'll turn 10 in April, so it was time. His teeth are now as white as when he was 4. And his breath has improved considerably. His gums are still a little tender (but he had no extractions), so I bought one of those fancy slice off a hunk of meat foods to spoil him with for the next couple of days. He has a heart murmur, and the x-ray they took of him shows no enlargement of the heart, which is good. But it could also limit his ability to "go under" for treatment in the future.

Clawdio also made the trip to Dr. Mary's yesterday. He also has a heart murmur, but murmurs with cats are very different than murmurs with dogs. With dogs there are all kinds of treatments available. With cats, not so much. On the scale of cardiac crappiness, Clawdio is a 2/6. He's had the murmur for a year now and has advanced one number. His x-rays also show no enlargement, which is good. He's 13 years old. The trick is that his creatinine level is now abnormal. He's got kidney disease. We're starting him on Pepsid long-term. But it looks like he's going to go down the same elderly cat road as Looseyfur. Now the question is: will his heart fail him before his kidneys do? Clawdio takes his nine live seriously -- I've almost lost him twice before. So, I'm not counting him out. But he is spending more and more time in his cat bed up on top of the cupboards in the kitchen these days.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Santa:

I've worked hard at trying to be a good woman this year. I hope I blew whatever minimums you have about who is nice out of the water for the most part, but in other avenues, I know I still need a lot of work. I promise, I'm working on it. 

For next year, I'd like to figure out a way to balance my relationships. I seem to put a lot of energy into motherhood -- in fact -- most of my energy goes toward my son. I need to be a better spouse and an even better pet owner. Most of all, I need to work on being a better friend. I'm not around when people really need me. Not that they ask me to be around, but I used to be more involved. I've been disappearing too much into myself lately. 

I also need to work on making my home feel more put together. I've been focusing on updating and painting lately. Now I need to work on the cozy. It doesn't have to be the cleanest or most organized house on the block. But when we walk in the house, and others walk in the house, I want them to feel the comfort of the kindness of home. Home should be safe. Home should be welcoming. Home should be somewhere you want to spend the rest of your time.

At the same time, I don't want to lose my curiosity of the world. I want to travel and see new things with my family. Those are the plans for 2011. If you think I'm deserving of a gift, than I'd really like to get some energy back. I know that's not materialistic, but lately, I've been feeling very run down. Doc says it's a dietary deficiency, but the supplements and meal plan changing don't seem to be helping. I'm not sad or depressed at all. I just feel fatigued a lot. I could start drinking coffee, I guess. :-)

If something materialistic is easier, I understand. There's a black halo nude minidress at Needless Markups for an insane amount of money. If the elves can make a knock off, I'd be thrilled. I'm hoping to have the kind of legs that can wear that dress proudly. 

Have a happy holiday. X-man, MacTroll and I will miss seeing you when you stop at the house, but X-man's working hard on the cookie selection and reindeer treats. 


Monday, December 6, 2010

Magical Motivation

Anyone have any? I was supposed to run yesterday after taking X-man to visit the Crisis Nursery Holiday Shop. Instead, I came home and watched last week's Grey's Anatomy and a couple of episodes of Weeds on Netflix during quiet time. Afterwards, I made dinner and then went out and got all but one of the signatures I need to run for the library board. I had fun seeing all of my friends and neighbors to finish them off. When I returned, X-man and MacTroll had made sugar cookies from a package. MacTroll didn't realize you were supposed to put the sugar sprinkles on them before you baked them. And he didn't think they turned out very good.

I thought -WTF- they're cookies. And yes, a few of them were a little crunchier than I'd like. But I ate three while X-man was in the bath, so, um clearly they weren't that bad.

Last Monday, I sat with Amy and talked about my plan for the week. About how the holiday shouldn't be about celebrating with food every day. I need to realign my brain a bit, because even though I know and believe that statement, I haven't been making the choices to follow the concept.

And it's terrible, but I have two appointments on my list today that I don't want to do. I don't feel like going to weight management. And I don't feel like going to Tae Kwon Do. Oh, wait, I also haven't been writing down my non-HMR foods. So, you know, I have to go down and make my food plan for the day. Get my child to school, get to the gym, shower, go weigh in, get my last signature, go to Tae Kwon Do and then I at the end of my day, I get to the good stuff -- Seeing Special K and her family for dinner.

And then on Tuesday, I can get up and stick to my plan again, and the day after that and the day after that. Maybe it just feels a bit monotonous and that's why I started slipping. Maybe, I'm just a bit tired and lazy. Maybe I just didn't want to deal with it last week.

Back on the wagon. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Way We Roll

I love how life is like going to the grocery store. Nothing much is going on and then all of a sudden there's a zillion people in line at the same time clogging up the works and making me inefficient and, therefore, crabby.

First: We're headed back out to Cupertino again. MacTroll has a project he has to work on for two weeks. We'll be getting some kind of corporate apartment and X-man and I will be out for a week, and then will head home so we don't miss our first week of my volleyball league and X-man's first week of sports class at Little Gym. Neighborhoods that I've been told to check out include areas of the East Bay, which I think is too far, Mountainview, Willow Glen area of San José and Sunnyvale.

Second: The Loosey-Room of One's Own finally got the right floor. Flooring America next to Meijer ordered the wrong one, and then I didn't see that it was the wrong floor until it was almost done. So, the poor installers had to remove it and then the sales people had to reorder the right one. My painters come back next week to finish the trim and do another coat on the walls, so I'll post a photo about that then.

Third: In September, we put in the application to see if X-man could get into Next Generation for Primary School. He didn't get accepted. He got waitlisted. So, we'll be doing the Unit 4 School of Choice and I'm rooting hard for Carrie Busey. The trick to this is that since he's on the wait list, if they contact us with a spot and we say no -- they keep our application fee of $500. If there isn't a spot then they refund it to us. At some point, people will start asking X-man where he's going. And doing a "change-a-roo" on him would be weird, he's kind of sensitive. I'm also not sure which he'll be more twisted up about -- not going to a school where 1/2 of his neighborhood will likely go OR not continuing at the school he's known forever. Me -- I love the idea of both schools. And how many parents say that about choosing their child's school?

Fourth: The Christmas Tree. Since Jarling's is open longer this year (until December 11), we couldn't go there to get our Christmas tree this year. Preston's, the tree guy from Michigan that used to sell there, sold the business down here to someone new and moved it to the parking lot of Danville Gardens, Too. On the way home from Meijer the other day, I saw a sign for Moore's Tree Farm. This morning after we cleared the 5 inches of snow from our drive and walk, we drove over there. It's about 15 minutes from our house at 30 mph with all the snow on country roads, so it's not too far. I'd ridden my bike by it in the summer. Head East on Church Street in Savoy. Go past Philo Rd, and you'll see Christmas tree signs to make your next right. Then 1/2 mile down the road is the farm on your left.

We pulled up, got the shpeel and headed down to the far end of the farm to cut a tree. X-man picked a 6' tree. I cut it down and put it on a cool wagon and then MacTroll hauled it back. It is about 2' shorter than we normally get, but it was 50 percent less. The college kid who welcomed us was awesome. He and X-man were little chatterboxes. We hiked out into the "medium" sized trees (5-7') and X-man chose our tree.

Afterward, there was free coffee and hot chocolate in their barn, which X-man really liked. The weird part, should you choose to go and one of the owners invites your child to take a tree from the corner -- just skip it. I thought it was a potted tree that they didn't get int the ground or something before the ground fell. I took it out to the car in it's pot, where the guy stopped me and said, "Oh, I just meant the tree." And I'm thinking, "What?" And he plucked the tree from the pot (there were no roots, it was just a trimming from some other tree) and handed it too me and then took his pot back to the barn. --- MacTroll and I raised our eyebrows and spoke our amusement and horror through telepathy while X-man jabbered away, sugar cookie in hand.

When we got home, we put up the tree and decorated it while listening to Christmas music. X-man requires that all Christmas music have words he can understand. :-)

Fifth: The clean up. I took a carload of toys and household items we no longer needed to Goodwill on Thursday. Freak also came and took our basement cat tree. One of X-man's Turtle teachers came and took home MacTroll's elliptical. He spent six months on it the first year he bought it and then it's just been carried around with us ever since. We have a Savoy Recreation Center membership, so there's really no need for things in the house. After shoveling, getting a tree, putting up a tree and hauling the elliptical upstairs, my husband has hidden away. Apparently, he was hoping for a Saturday where we sat around on our asses on the couch.

Sixth: Last night KTDID and I took X-man to the Tolono Public Library. I collected nearly 40 signatures for my petition to run for the library board. I'll be stopping by some friends houses tomorrow night to see about the last handful that I need. X-man met Santa for the first time since he was 1. He freaked out a little like the boy in the Christmas Story when Santa asked him what he wanted, but he didn't lose it or cry. :-)

Sixth: Tonight we're headed downtown to do dinner at Farren's and then go to the Parade of Lights. If X-man holds it together long enough, we'll stop by the Orpheum Children's Museum afterwards.

Seventh: Tomorrow we've got to get up early and head out to Monticello for Santa on the Train. It's Christmas all weekend around here.  It also looks like we won't get to putting up Christmas lights until tomorrow.

Tis the season to be crazy busy, I guess.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Shot in the Dark

At the conference we were at in San José at the beginning of last month, a colleague of MacTroll's from Sydney mentioned that one of the fruit's key brainiacs on that continent was going to be on leave for a year working on becoming a colonel in the Australian army... and perhaps some of the U.S. brainiacs might be interested in helping out.

At the idea of crossing the Pacific again, MacTroll's eyes widened, his ears perked, and a bit of drool slipped out of the side of his mouth. We looked at the calendar and indeed, we have eight to ten weeks this summer where we could, supposedly, skip town for a couple months -- during the Australian winter -- and spend some time in Sydney before X-man starts kindergarten in the fall.

MacTroll doubts that he'll be able to go. He has enough work on his plate. But he also spent 5 years in Europe when his Dad worked abroad from almost his birth until age 5. And although he remembers no French from his time in Geneva, and really only has memories based an a few images left over in his brain and the stories his parents and brothers have told him, he has always thought it would be fun to work somewhere else for a while.

And if he wouldn't have had to pay taxes twice by working in the U.S. when I wanted to reside in Montreal before X-man was born... he would have gone for that move in a flash, too.

Outside of the crazy long plane ride from here to Sydney with a child, I think it would actually be awesome, too.

I guess we'll wait and see.