Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry, Happy

Our three day excursion to Loves Park, Rockford and Peoria is over.

We laughed. My Mom cried. And Lily was an absolute dreamboat in the car and at her first overnights in two different houses and a stop by another one for an afternoon.

X-man opening up his gifts from Santa at Nana's house.


MacTroll checking out snow in a can.


MacTroll and Lily


Nana reacting to the fact that we gave her an iPad 2. :-) Those are tears of joy, by the way. Just in case any of you are anti-Fruit.


Looseyfur and her new oven mitt. And yes, that is the Swedish Chef in the background.


Nana, later, hanging out with Coconut on her new iPad.


My sister.


X-man at my Dad's house on my Aunt Donna's lap reading the Magic School Bus. 


X-man playing with his new Green Lantern play set from my sister.


MacTroll and X-man putting together some pirate Legos from Papa.


Some of the family took a walk after Christmas dinner in Anna Page Park. There Lily ran into her first pile of really old snow. She was perplexed.


Papa and X-man working on more pirate Legos. 


Meanwhile, my cousins, the doctor married to the doctor and the lawyer married to the lawyer were losing terribly to my husband and my other cousin at Ticket to Ride. Don't they all look very adorable when they're concentrating.


After everyone left, Papa and X-man got out the cards and played War.


This is my Dad's dog Zippy. She's being very good at staying out of the kitchen while the giant leftover ham and giant leftover turkey got put away. 


My sister and I got my dad a bottle of Champagne to celebrate his retirement. He's been an attorney in Rockford at the same firm for over 40 years. And as Dec. 31, he's officially moving on. 


It was a lovely holiday. Next year we're hosting all of MacTroll's family at our house. I'm not sure who is going to come yet besides his parents. So we'll see what happens.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting Back on the Horse

So, I've been easing myself back into running. I've been mixing it up with long walks (60-75 minutes) with Lily or by myself. I've got one session left with Kari before she gives me my work out plan. But I started to sign up for things.

For example, I renewed my membership to the trail running group in Danville, so I can do the Fat Ass the day before my 36th birthday. Then I registered to do the Mini-I Challenge during the Illinois Marathon. I did the half last year, but am wary of injury, so the Mini-I Challenge is running the 5k on Friday night and the 10k in the morning. I love doing 10ks. In my opinion, there aren't enough of them in Central Illinois.

I went in to pick up replacement running shoes at Body N Sole the other day, and they had their New Year's Run sign up at the front desk. Only 150 runners can run -- and they were on runner 94. I sat there staring at it wondering if I should bother (and yes, it's a little sad that they haven't updated their web site with their own run, yet.).

The run benefits the food bank, which is a good reason to participate. But the runners who are mostly signed up for it -- are running store runners. Real runners. Even though I know the penguin says that I am a real runner... I have never felt that way, and real runners treat me that way. During races, I find the line between where the runners stop and the walkers start. Some runs I run the whole thing. Some runs I have to take walk breaks. I used to chalk it up to me being a newbie. Now I know that it has more to do with my mental state of mind.  Kind of like still being 80 lbs lighter than I was. I am totally still a fat girl in my head. I've had a number of races, where I've done walk breaks and had people my pace ask me why I wasn't just running the whole thing -- or tell me they don't consider it a good race if they walk. That's totally their choice. I don't make judgements on their style, why are they so into mine? I started a walker who started to run to burn more calories in a shorter time. I didn't grow up running. I never loved it until I couldn't do because of injury. Then I missed it. Now I appreciate whatever kind of run I get, because after not doing anything for five months -- I get it.

At Weight Management tonight, there was a flyer for the Carle Resolution Run on January 14 at 9 a.m. It's totally family friendly. Pets, strollers and kids welcome, which is more my kind of thing. Kind of like the untimed Fat Ass trail run. But what this gives me is goals. Things to work toward... but I'm timid.

Which is hard for me to admit.

X-man's First Karaoke

X-man received a karaoke machine from his aunt and uncle in California. I have never seen him quite as serious as when I got out the camera and started filming. So I promised him I'd keep that footage to myself.




What he learned is that song selection is key... and that he gets a little nervous when he is watched or filmed. Not a surprise. I sung the best when I turned around and faced the bookcase Jim Morrison style -- even in our living room.

On another note, the karaoke machine is nice because it has a button you can push where it smooths out the lyrics from your iPod, so if you know the song, or you've printed out the lyrics, you're singing just to the music. But if you need a little help, you can sing along to the words just on a microphone. MacTroll is already thinking of getting a headphone splitter, so you can listen to the words in headphones, but they wouldn't play as you sang to the "crowd," for those of us who freak out and have minds that go blank even if we've sung the song a million times in the car.

Either way, we spent several hours yesterday playing American Idol. X-man has never seen American Idol, so I'm not sure how he knew to go and make up number cards to evaluate the singers as judges. But that's what we did. My first song I got a 10 from MacTroll and a 0 from X-man. Now I know which one is my Paula...

When we were done, the boys had Chinese food for dinner and then played with the castle that X-man's grandparents gave him.


Then I went off to see the Descendants by myself. Where I feel I got duped by a trailer and supposed "Oscar buzz" again. Sigh. It wasn't hilarious. It wasn't funny at all. I was anticipating quirky like Juno. The whole thing was sad, sad, sad, sad.

I much preferred seeing the Muppets.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bowler or Scientist? Mmmm....

So this morning when I dropped of X-man for Little Gym, I expected us to just chill out and play with his new castle. But we didn't. Instead, we stopped by Old Orchard and he had a pepperoni pizza and we bowled two games. The first game he scored a respectable 71 (His highest ever is 78). I bowled a turkey and a spare the first game, so he was starting to wonder when he'd ever have a "special score."

It came in the second game, where the 4 college guys next to us were trying not to concentrate on the fact that two of them had significantly lower scores in the 7th frame than my five year old. Sure he had bumpers, but they were 20. He finished with a 101. He beat his mother by 1. It was awesome... plus he had two strikes and a spare in that game. MacTroll had run in (he was supposed to meet us for lunch but caught up with his gossiping -- I swear, who needs a water cooler when you have a cellphone?) and he missed my turkey, but he got to see X-man beat me, which was awesome.

After bowling we came home and opened another present. This one came from my aunt and uncle who live in town. X-man could hardly contain himself while I got it out of the box and put batteries in it. Was it a Nintendo DS? Was it slot cars? No.


A microscope. Where he spent almost two hours making slides of stuff around the house. Specimens off of light switches, water from the cat bowl (which was made up of a LOT of hair, go figure), stuff from his shoes, the counter MacTroll made his lunch on, etc. 


As you can tell, Lily was trying to figure out what in the hell he was doing. But my kid is apparently a scientist who bowls. And he's mighty adorable, too.

Oh wait... the karaoke party at our house might just be about to begin.

Jackpot!

There are things I forget about now that I'm a teacher -- like teacher gifts. I purchased them for X-man's teachers, but didn't think I'd be getting any for some reason.

But I did. Right now I'm sitting on a small fortune in Panera gift cards, which is awesome. X-man, MacTroll and I used some for dinner the other night. And helping me open my gifts has kind of kept X-man from jumping out of his pants about the presents that are under the tree for him.

Then in the middle of dinner, I realized that I didn't want to drive all the gifts up to Rockford and then haul them back down. So, we began opening some of the gifts that came from people in the mail. This was a good idea. We had new books to read, new games to play and a new castle toy where the English invade the French. KTDID came over and we did our exchange last night. So, there were new Superhero Squad toys to play with and Imaginext's ONLY girl character -- Catwoman was well received. (Dude, she' like in plastic leather with a whip and on a hot motorcycle... Now -- where the hell is Wonder Woman?)

X-man got to stay up late last night, but I'm nipping that in the bud tonight. He is a mess when he stays up. And I don't want him to be a total loss when we get back to school in January. This morning I dropped him off at the Little Gym at 9 a.m. and I'll pick him up at noon. I got to do a 60-minute workout, and now I'm about to go shower.

I have to admit, that I miss this about the old days, when I'd drop him off at Next Generation, and then go about my day, most days of the week. It kind of gave me time to mellow out, and I have to admit, I was a more patient mother when I wasn't tired from playing with other people's children all day. Things to think about, I know...

X-man's visit to the pediatrician regarding his anxiety went well. She agrees with the school that his symptoms aren't ADHD, but that from the information we gave her and his teacher gave her he's lacking in self-esteem and his anxiety is making it hard for him to socialize in school. Academically though, Mrs. Dramado says he's doing very well. 

We started using a fidget with him on Tuesday, as well. He came home with his socks intact for the first time since September! So, we'll keep our fingers crossed that it keeps going well. But it's nice to have some forward positive successes. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Teachers Who Get Kids

On Friday, I got a holiday gift and a note from a parent. The gift was lovely. But the note nearly put me in tears. Then today, I got another gift from a parent... with a giant hug to go along with it and a teary thank you.

I can't tell you the specifics, but what I can tell you is that those two moments gave my mood a giant boost. I have extraordinary worries about my son. Because I want him to feel safe and loved. I want him to have friends that he knows how to communicate with and I don't want his life to be spent, like mine, worried that he's never good enough. I see the traits of my entire childhood coming out in him, and I know the personal beatings that come with it. It's his issue, and it was my issue. In many ways, it still is.

So, like these mothers, I feel a giant sense of relief that he has people in his life that "get" him and support him, and don't think he's some demon spawn from hell the they wish they never had in their classes. I feel a giant sense of relief when they are clearly a partner in trying to help him help himself and are good at guiding him to be the best little person he can be. I like that they see strong traits of leadership, kindness and a want to do well and be successful. It means the world to me that they don't think I'm failing him. Because sometimes, when you have a child who has some issues, you feel like you're standing alone. Like you're a family of lepers or something...

I voiced this one day to one of the staff at X-man's school. He smiled and said he knew EXACTLY what I was talking about. He had it with his son, too.

Tonight at the Rec Center, I walked up to Ms. Sabrina, X-man's favorite staffer. He had given her a holiday gift at Lego Club. And I didn't want to say it in front of him, so I went back later, ran 4 miles and then let her know, that I was so happy he found her. Because he knows that she understands him. She's a safe person for him to go to who takes the time to figure out the bigger thoughts in his head. Teachers like that don't come by every day. And like his kindergarten teacher, they're all trying to support him and teach him to respect the boundaries.

One of the other socialization problems that I'm noticing has also been highlighted by four different parents that I've met of grown single children. "X-man doesn't have sibling to show him the social ropes regarding cruelty. (Yes, siblings can also be VERY loving and kind.) He enters situations expecting everyone to be fair and honest. And he's shocked and frustrated when those kids aren't honorable... and if they're not, why does he need to be?"

It's put a lot of perspective on some of the conversations he's having with me lately about not fitting in at school and not having friends. He's very social and outgoing. But he's also very bossy and wants everyone to live by his rules. :-)

So, you know, he's 5. :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Entry of Updates

1. You'll all be delighted to know that I managed to get my earphones to work with my new iPhone. I'm not sure why it works now and didn't work at the Rec Center (maybe I pushed the cord in harder with my Kari-inspired stronger biceps?), but it works. So hooray.

2. I don't want to jinx myself (which means I am) but X-man's Molluscum Contagiosum is totally currently controlled by the bug juice. No more raised bumps, but there are a few little marks left that are a bit like small scars. So hooray.

3. Who knew having a girl dog was going to be so much different than a boy dog? I took Maya on a 75-minute walk this morning. We only went 3 miles, but she got a lot of sniffs in. But the dog peed only once and there were no poops. With Riley, he used to measure his amount of satisfaction of his walk with how many times he could poop. A three poop walk meant he'd be asleep for the rest of the day. However, Riley would let me clip his toenails. He hated it, but I could do it. Lily is totally not into it, so we'll be taking a trip to Petsmart today to have them grind down her nails.

4. KTDID helped me hang pictures in my Loosey-room. I love it. I wrapped presents down there the other day. It's a very happy place.

5. My vegetarianism has made things interesting for X-man. Whenever we go out to eat, he now only picks between 301 Mongolia and Flattop because he knows I can eat there (which is  nice because I make it into soup and it's in the box).

6. I keep trying to make holiday cookies for the cookie sale at school on Monday, but nothing is turning out very good. Apparently, I suck at making jam. So I'm cheating and using some from a jar. Sue me.  I thought I'd try to make everything from BabyCakes so it would be allergy friendly. But at this point, I'm just thinking of going back to the standbys that I make that I know will be good.

7. Only two more days of school... Hooray!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Maybe = Yes

I'm going to be honest. I've only had three boyfriends in my life, and I married the third, so, um, my scope of things is limited. But do you want to know what all three men had in common that I loved so much about them.

When they said, "Maybe" they really meant, "Yes."

When 17-year-old me asked carless MacTroll if there was any way that he could visit me at the University of Iowa Yearbook camp for our one year anniversary. He said, "Maybe."

He showed up, found me at the mall, grabbed my ass -- and almost got punched for it.

When 22-year-old me got into graduate school at American, I called him up and asked if he'd like to move with me. He said, "Yes." When I asked him if he thought we'd do okay living in the same 700 square feet (let alone the same area code) after being long-distance for six years, he said, "Maybe."

When 29-year-old pregnant me asked if he could find a job within Apple where he wouldn't spend 6 months in Tokyo, he said, "Hell yes." Then he committed to scooping the cats for me for a year. Then he committed to taking the night shifts with the baby so I could get some sleep.

Now at 36, he doesn't say maybe that often. But maybe that's because he doesn't have to. Maybe it's because he automatically puts us first when he can. And maybe that's why we're looking at a move to California so hard in the next year or so. Because wouldn't it be nice to be a team more than 40 percent of the time?

--- Maybe --

But I have to tell you, I could never have been with someone where maybe meant no. I need hope and something to look forward to. I need someone else who wants to move mountains. Maybe = no is like saying I don't know. And I hate that phrase more than any other when it comes out of the mouth of men, especially about things that I think they should know -- like their children's shoe sizes or the kind of toilet paper we use. Or... how you feel about another human being.

But right now, MacTroll knows I've been feeling pretty shitty. So he and I spent some time last night making our hotel reservations for San Jose. We're going to spend two nights there in the new Hilton and then two nights in Half Moon Bay. Which reminds me, that I need to call two different school districts and ask for information on coming to tour four different elementary schools, while we drive through the neighborhoods. I'm pretty sure I know where we want to end up as a family with young children. But I just need to see the "hood" with my own eyes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Good Days, Bad Days and Ferris Bueller

Here's the part about blogging where I always find myself challenged. I share a lot on my blog, but I don't share everything, but when I get worked up over something, it might take me weeks to post something even remotely related to how I feel about an event or a comment.

This is one of those posts. X-man has had a rough couple of weeks at school. So, I've had a rough couple of weeks. It's that weird mental umbilical cord that I have never been able to emotionally separate myself. I still do think that what he does totally reflects my skills or efforts as a parent. But what happens when you're the parent staying up all night worrying and waiting and reading about what you can do -- when your child appears to have anxiety. It's no secret that I have a few social anxiety issues myself. So, it's not really a shocker that our son has them. Depression runs in both sides of his family, too. 

I made an appointment in October to get him in to see a pediatrician. My hope at the time was that even if the school's report regarding his attention issues were normal that she could refer us to someone to help with the sock pulling and fidgeting. But even though X-man's own behavior has gotten better in relation to his peers since the beginning of school -- he's crying a lot at school and is often unable to comfort himself. So he ends up in the office to calm down. 

Today, after breakfast he doubled over in pain regarding his stomach. We've had loads of folks at our school out with the stomach bug, so I had to weigh my choices because he was past the point of mentally understanding me having a conversation about the fact that he didn't have a fever and was lying. That was going to lead to a giant, head-on struggle. 

Did I really want to engage the child locks on my vehicle, tackle him to put on his socks and shoes, heave him into the car only to have him undo his belt, quickly drive him to school and shove him out the door and drive away quickly hoping he didn't chase after my vehicle (that's the mental framework he was in this morning)? No. Did I have that kind of quick witted fight in me the day after single parenting during a rather challenging child week to try to use my words to encourage him enough to get over himself to go to school? No. Have I already been emotionally eating (i.e. binging) all week because I feel like I'm just waiting, waiting, waiting for our appointment with the pediatrician on Tuesday because I feel like I've tried everything, and am coming up woefully short. Yes. 

Then X-man got up, raced to the bathroom and started dry heaving and spitting into the toilet. "Mommy, I threw up a little." Well, okay then. Why don't we give him the benefit of the doubt, and I'll call the school and into work, and to my personal trainer, and to my dietician and to the babysitter that I hired so I could go see my nutritionist about my food issues and cancel. And we'll see where this goes. 

Then I explained that when you are sick, you have to sit in your bed and not get out of it the whole day. And so he did. He had the radio on his alarm clock playing softly. He was reading books. He colored a bit. He did some homework pages in a sight reader book. He ate his morning bland snack. Then he ate his bland lunch in peace. 

At 1:15 p.m., he claimed he was feeling much better and maybe he could come down and watch Phineas and Ferb. I said no. He had to stay in his room on his bed. I'd serve him afternoon snack and dinner in there. And then at 6:15, he'd get in the bathtub and go to bed early. 

He looked not excited about it. But when he told me he was feeling better, he also pointed to the clock and told me that school was almost over, too. Strange how feeling better and school being over were put together in that sentence structure. I had to hand it to him. He almost had me. 

So, I climbed into his bed with him and we talked about school. He said his stomach hurts a lot before he goes and when he's there and things go wrong. I'm going to attribute this stomach pain to anxiety. He gets worked up and starts to cry, and then the other kids make fun of him. He also makes some bad choices, and the girls tattle on him. But he won't tell me what those bad choices are. Then he said he was sad, and he didn't want to go back to school. He wants to go to a new school.

I explained that children will act like that no matter where he goes. That it happened at Next Generation, and yes, it's frustrating. But that he has his days when he doesn't make the best choices and hurts others, so he needs to understand that no one is perfect, and that everyone is doing their best.

Then I e-mailed his father about our conversation, and cc:ed it to his teacher and principal. I also made it clear that he'd be going to school tomorrow. And still he sits upstairs, on his bed. This is the most disturbing part of it all. My child hates to sit still. HATES it. Even to wait for roller coasters and cool safari rides. So, how bad is it for him in his head that he chose to sit up there all day rather than go to six hours at school? 


Monday, December 12, 2011

You Have Got to be Kidding Me

Every cellphone I have ever had since 2003 has been a hand-me down from MacTroll. It wasn't until about a year ago that I got his iPhone 3GS. And I've dutifully carried it, quite happily until suddenly when we were in Florida I noticed a lot of vibrating going on when I'd put the phone on mute... except there weren't any e-mails, calls or texts coming through. The thing was just vibrating, randomly all the time, whenever the button rubbed up against something or bounced a certain way in my bag or pocket.

I never put a cover on the phone, mostly because I ran so much with it using the Nike Plus app. And it wouldn't fit in my $6 arm band case with a cover on it. I guess I always figured since MacTroll had already talked for 12 years of time on it by the time I inherit any of phones, and the battery life on them usually suck by then, that a little dent in a phone here and there wouldn't really matter. I mean, when you inherit a 2 year old phone, it's not like it's your baby.

Except now I have a new iPhone 4S, and this scares and annoys the living crap out of me. First of all, I have a habit of having too many things in my hands and putting phones, keys, etc., down in places that I forget about and have to come back to later. Secondly, it's new. No one has talked on it, which means, kind of like a new car, I'm going to be the person who puts the first dent in it. And last, in order to make the damn thing work, I've already had to do 3 hours of updating to it from my machine only to find out tonight that in order to make my e-mail work with the effing iCloud, I have to update my laptop to Lion. 

MacTroll told me to update on the kitchen machine. The problem is, I don't have any of my addresses on the machine down there. They're all on my laptop. So here I am running a Lion update from the Mac App store (why are there two stores: one on my machine and one in iTunes)? This update is telling me it will take about 3 hours to run... so that makes it a total of 6 hours to make the new phone do what the old phone did.

That's jacked up.

In addition, I learned tonight that it won't work withe volume component on my headphones from Adidas. But it will work with the remote play and pause. WTF is that? Plus, I feel like I should have some kind of protective case on it, because it's new and I'm a klutz. Except then I have to remove the damn case every time I want to go for a run and wear an arm band, which, let's face it is around 3-4 days a week. (Except don't ask me about today's run, it was terrible. I felt like I had rocks in my shoes, so I quit and ran errands instead while X-man was at Rec Zone.)

Anyway, I'm annoyed with the Fruit. And at my sense of annoyance, my spouse stopped texting me. Mostly because he doesn't have a new phone yet (they're on order for his team), so I'm pretty sure he wants me to shut up complaining about it. It already drove him nuts that the phone arrived last Tuesday, and I didn't have time to get the damn thing activated with him until Friday. My priorities apparently do not match his.

And in a final event of failure, there is a boy sleeping in the "Loosey" room in the basement tonight. KTDID came over and helped me hang some pictures and a clock down there, and X-man decided that with the new decorations, it was someplace he needed to sleep. So, he's down there with my lighted cube table on as a night light, the stair hall light on and the bathroom light on.

Sigh. So much for my girls only rule. 

In another completely different conversation, my class is talking about holidays this week. We broke them down into five areas. They were Christian Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, Commercial Christmas and Winter Solstice. We talked about how people celebrate different holidays today, and I talked about the celebration of Christmas as the birthday of Jesus. About the Angel's word that Jesus was there to help guide people. I told them about the manger and the wise men. I asked who went to Church to celebrate Christmas, as nearly everyone in the class's parents had indicated they celebrated Christian Christmas. 

And the class was silent. So, I excused them to go play. We were going to make foot and handprint angels later on, but we had to get our parent gifts finished first and that took a while, and then they were a bit stir crazy, so it was better to do movement games like Simon Says with them.

Tomorrow is Chanukkah, and I'm excited because we're going to do the dreidel game and eat challah bread and watch some Elmo's World talk about the Jews defeating the Greeks and -- um -- I'm not Jewish, but for some reason, it feels like a much more exciting lesson than today, and the Tuesday/Thursday class will get to work on their gifts for their parents.

I guess you can't be teacher of the week every day, but for some reason my heart just wasn't in today's lesson. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Little Fish

X-man played with the Wonder Twins today at the Urbana Aquatic Center. He had a really good time swimming with them, and for the first time, I didn't have to get into the water, so I got to sit on the sides with Special K and chat. It's always so nice to see her.

The last time we were at the pool last winter, we were there with the twins, and X-man went down the water slide. His swimming skills were below the other boys and he wasn't quite as tall, so the lifeguard told him that he couldn't go down the slide any more because they were afraid that he would get hurt. He cried and he cried and he cried. And he refused to even try later in the summer at Sholem because of the experience.

Today, the boys asked X-man if he'd try to go down the slide, and he said no. As soon as the other two boys took off to the slide and went down it successfully. X-man looked at them and followed them up the stairs. He sat down and went down the slide. When he landed, he doggie paddled his way over to the side and --- he got there. He looked at the life guard, but she didn't say anything. He looked at me with a giant smile on his face and I clapped. And the rest of the time was pretty much him going up and down the slide. You know, because he can. He did it so much, the other boys wanted him to stop so they could play with him a bit while they were there. :-)

I am ever so proud of him for taking a chance. And I want to thank Mr. Matt at CRCE for instilling quite a bit of confidence in X-man since he started taking lessons there in September. We're excited to have him again (fingers crossed) when CRCE starts lessons again in February.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brrrr

I brought X-man home from our afternoon of painting pottery at 3:30 p.m. and I promptly crawled into bed and fell asleep. This is never a good sign. I woke up at 5 p.m. when the boys were making dinner plans. I was freezing. MacTroll put extra blankets on me wearing two shirts and two pairs of pants and double socks.

Now I'm up. I've had a warm meal and some hot chocolate, but I still feel under the weather. The weird part is the nothing hurts. No headache, no stomach ache, no muscle aches, no runny nose. I'm just cold and exhausted.

So, I'm going back to bed. One more day of work, and this week is over. X-man is at home waiting for Santa to call... and then he gets to see him tomorrow at the Tolono Library.

Hooray!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Goodwill in Savoy

Yes, I love my friends and neighbors in Savoy, and I am always very excited about them.

But today, I was excited to see all the signs on Rt. 45 indicating that the Goodwill drop off site is now open and accepting all the crap I've been carrying around in the back of my car that I've been meaning to leave at North Prospect, but either forget about, or run out of time to do.

So today, since my staff meeting got out early. I left some books from my class in the book drop and then swung by the new facilities. I parked at the south end of the building and a nice gentleman came out with a cart to see if he could collect my goodies. I only had a medium-sized box of unnecessary kitchen items and some trays to give him. But I already have another box started in my closet with odds and ends.

In other Savoy news, I have confirmation from Dick Helton that the McDonald's will NOT have a play place in it. But he could confirm there will be some kind of specialty grocery store there but could NOT confirm what kind it would be. I guess we'll find out when everyone has signed on the dotted line. I'm wondering if it will be an Aldi's since they're building that one by the Starbucks up north and they have one next to the Wal-mart to the east. So I guess it makes sense (in my strange and twisted mind) that they'd have one relatively near the Wal-mart to the south.

Someone once told me that Aldi's is owned by the same folks as Trader Joe's, and Wikipedia says it's true. But I also I know Trader Joe's doesn't do small towns... kind of like Southwest doesn't do small airports, which is why they're pulling AirTran out of Bloomington... but I love my Schnuck's, and I was kind of disappointed to hear there'd be another food store in Savoy. But we'll see what happens...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Because you're an idiot?"

There comes a time when you realize that you are not enough. That some people think fondly of you and some people don't, and that sometimes, you've been human and fucked up enough to change their opinion of you from one way to another. Sometimes, if you give it enough time and effort, they'll change their minds back. Sometimes they won't.

I've never been good in these situations. When you're a girl, they start about the age of 4 (which might be why I never want a 4-year-old classroom, because the mean girl syndrome would be the death of me). I was never an alpha girl. The lead "Heather" if you will. I was always more of the Veronica. The girl just outside of the alpha circle, that didn't realize she had enough power and self conviction to be better than she was.

In a lot of ways, I'm still that person. The problem is that it doesn't always occur to me that while I'm living life for me that I sometimes rub others the wrong way. Sometimes, I'm doing all I can do to hold myself together, and I can't concentrate on other people or their feelings at that exact moment. It's hard, because I'd like to think that I can be a good friend. But lately, I'm back to doubting my ability to emotionally connect with my peers. Because ultimately, I exist in some kind of shadowed periphery. I like it there. It's safe and camouflaged, and I don't get burned so often.

It's when I come out and try to enjoy the sun that I usually find myself entirely overwhelmed. I start to make mistakes. People's feelings get hurt, and I realize I never should have crawled out of my lonely hold to begin with.

On the other hand, maybe I just like to think of myself as a Veronica because she wore awesome vests and ended up as Spock's Mom. Unfortunately, there were far too many ugly situations for her along the way. But she did date some amazingly cute men...

Monday, December 5, 2011

How Do I Know It's Christmas

Not because of the pile of boxes in the dining room.
Not because we've hung our stockings by the chimney with care.
Not because the tree is up, or the sad outdoor lights.
But because when I get head butted by Maya, our large, fuzzy torti cat --

Her head sticks to me -- just for a few seconds.
She's covered in sap from drinking the water out of the tree.

X-man also hung all the bells low on the tree so she could ring them as she played.

Oh, and here's a funny. I went to Petsmart to pick up cat food. Our cats are on light food because Luke and Maya are pushing the limits. But we used to be on Science Diet "Active Longevity" (This is what they renamed senior). When I was in the store yesterday, I looked for the pink bag, and noticed they'd redesigned and now there's a new senior food called, "Age Defying" for cats ages 11+.

Seriously, Science Diet?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stupid Men and Their Damn Guns

So last week while we were in Florida, I get an e-mail from my neighbors on the East Side of Preston that hunters have been pulling up and shooting at the retention pond behind our house, and that he's been waking up to gun shots every morning.

He contacted the guy who owns Signature Homes, who admitted that he gave permission to hunters to be out there after 8 a.m., but that 5:30 a.m. is definitely abusing the privilege. My neighbor explained that his informal poll of other Prairie Meadows residents concluded that they don't want any shooting going on anywhere near their homes.

He apologized and said he'd contact the Sheriff's office, because apparently the hunters -- are sheriffs. So now we're home. The hunters are parking at the dead end of Bradford and Preston which wakes my dog up in a rage every morning at 5:30 a.m. I'm not really someone who approaches men who drive big black trucks that have four or five hunting caps in the window and are heavily armed to have conversations... so I e-mailed the builder.

He apologized and said he'd call the Sheriff's office.

I woke up to gun shots this a.m. at 6:30 a.m. again.

So I called the Sheriff's office. But since I don't own the land... I can't do shit about it. So I e-mailed the builder again. And then I went out there and on pink paper with silver lettering left notes for them to contact the owner and gave them the contact info.

For the life of me, I will never understand hunting. It's dark and cold and you go out there and sit, then you shoot something and have to get in a boat to go out and retrieve it... or send a dog. Which makes you wet and cold and in the dark... And then you have to go home and pluck it and skin it and wash your dirty dog. It all just sounds gross and messy. And I've had duck. It's not all that tasty. It's really pretty oily and there's not much to it. And as far as I know Canadian Geese (for reasons I'm sure escape everyone) are still a federally protected species. But surely, someone who is a Sheriff can understand people not wanting their peace disturbed in a residential area before 8 a.m.

And I totally get the feeling the Signature Homes guy is just going to let this ride until the end of hunting season. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Friday, December 2, 2011

X-man's Best Day Ever

Tonight we went to the Fighting Illini Hockey Game. We left at the end of the second period, as we always have to do because X-man just can't last past 9 p.m. and be human. But at the beginning of the second period, X-man was polishing off the last of his hot pretzel (which wasn't hot any more) and boom -- out came his first loose tooth.



He was so excited that he immediately had to go pee.

I held the baby tooth for him as he explored the open hole and made a lost of lispy noises like Cindy from the Brady Bunch. Then at the end of the second period, he gave one of the refs a big goofy grin and boom -- he got one of the pucks from the game.

As he cradled it to his chest, my child started crying in joy. He was excited about the tooth fairy. And now -- now the nice man gave him a puck. Plus, the Illini were ahead 6-2 at the end of the second period.

On the way down the steps, he said, "This is my best day ever."

He's anxious to get to bed now, so that the tooth fairy can get here and he can have something special from her.

Working It Out

This is the first week where I have managed to exercise every day this week since I got injured last May. It helps that Wednesday and this afternoon will be spent in the basement of Kari Gardner in session 2 of 6 of our personal training time together (and if you're reading her website, I am one of her "aging adult with a debilitating orthopedic condition" clients so don't think I'm going to have a body like an Athleta model or anything.). But the big news is that I'm back to running 3.5-4 miles on my "long" runs. It'll take another month or so, but I'm feeling like I might actually get back into having my long run be 7 miles, average run be 5 miles and my short run being 3 miles again. And it would be nice to move from 10 miles a week up to 15 miles a week, and then mellow out at running 20-25, which was my average before I started half marathon training last year.

The other nice news is that in the last four weeks, I was able to lose 7.7 lbs. I'm still "in the box" with Carle for another 8 weeks. My goal is to get back into that 160-165 lb range. So I'm 4.3 lbs away from hitting the high end of that range. I made it through Thanksgiving at Disney pretty well. I packed the meals and oatmeal (because I find it easier to travel without my Magic Bullet blender). I ended up eating out of the box (4 mini balls of falafel with a side salad) when I first got there because we were in such a rush to get to the parks that I forgot to eat some oatmeal before heading out. Then there was the issue that the hotel said they'd have a microwave available on their web site... but neglected to state it would cost me $35 a day. So, um, I just ate a lot of pasta fagoli cold. But I also went out of the box for a coconut mound from Babycakes, the Vegan bakery. It was a whole different kind of oral sex.

Other than that, the foot and back are doing well. I'm still taking 3 iron pills a day to keep my iron up, and will likely do that for life. I'm also on a B complex since I became a vegetarian. It's made me make much healthier choices eating overall, which is what I was hoping for. Now the next big challenge is that I have to bake 5 dozen cookies for a bake sale at work on Dec. 19-20. I guess I'm going to have to have X-man and MacTroll do my taste testing. And I'm quite sure they'll hate that. :-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let the Lego Advent Begin

X-man opened day one of his Lego City Advent Calendar this morning at 6:30 a.m., so he'd have enough time to play with whatever thing came out of the first window before heading to school. Then when he rushed home, he picked up his mail (the Mickey Ears we had to have mailed home because they have a 48-hour wait on stitching them and we weren't there that long.)

Then he belly flopped in front of the advent calendar wondering what day 2 would be like. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A boy and his dog

Last night X-man decided that he'd sleep with his door open for the very first time since he was out of crib. He said he likes the idea of the cats and dog coming to sleep with him.

So last night, as I tucked him in, Lily came into X-man's room, snuggled up to him on top of his feather down comforter and went to sleep with the sound of rain pelting against the windows at 8 p.m.

At 11:30 p.m., I went in to check on them. Lily was startled. She jumped up growled and barked at me defending her boy.

X-man never woke up.

I shushed her and her body became one big wiggly ball of black fluff. It read, "Oh, it's you! I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry!"

Then she came in to sleep with me.

I should have taken a photo of them snuggled together. But somehow I thought a photo wouldn't have done the moment justice.

It's taken a few months. But dog and boy finally seem to be figuring out each other.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life After the Mouse

We landed at Orlando Airport around 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Thursday. We decided that Thanksgiving isn't going to be about food for us, so we picked up our rental car and ran over to the Swan Hotel. The Swan backs up to The Dolphin, The Boardwalk and the Yacht Club resorts, so there were a lot of choices for meals. 

We dumped our stuff and then headed to the Magic Kingdom and let X-man lead the way. And that's pretty much how we spent the day. We walked around the park and let him point to rides, wait in line and then grab a snack here and there. X-man has never been a big Winnie the Pooh fan, but he found that all these childhood favorites in the same area more than awesome. So he decided to skip the Pooh ride and instead, visit Mr. Sanderz' house. 


After riding my favorite ride (the Teacups, where the boys found my crazy giggling quite amusing) X-man and I went on the race cars. He was too short to drive according to the measuring pole at the front of the ride, but it looked like they weren't caring too much about who was driving when they got in the car. However, X-man is a bit of a rule follower, so when I offered it to him, he refused. But we had to stop and sit in the stands afterwards so he could practice being an announcer at the races. 


It was beautiful weather in Florida. It was in the 70s the whole time, but in the evening, a breeze would kick up and it got a bit chilly. On our way to pick up a sweatshirt for X-man, we stopped by Cinderella's castle all lit up in purple. The castle had all the Christmas lights on it, too.


Now wrapped up in a new Pluto fuzzy sweatshirt, we sat down on Main Street to watch the Electrical Parade. I had to tell X-man who 70 percent of the characters were (the major floats were for Pete's Dragon -- a movie he refuses to watch because of the Gogans -- as well as Alice in Wonderland and Pinnochio.) We also got a Mickey balloon for him. He was fascinated by the fact that it was a balloon inside a balloon. There was some whining over the fact that it wasn't an LED balloon. But he got over it -- quick. 


Here's Mickey on his train float. After the Electrical Parade, we got on the bus to go home and skipped the fireworks at 10 p.m. It was X-man's bedtime when the parade started (Central time), so he was totally wasted by the time the parade was over.


I'm really glad we didn't book a character breakfast or wait in line for the buffet at our hotel that has them  first come/first serve on the weekend. Because this was X-man's reaction to getting within 3 feet of one of the many green Toy Story guys hanging out in front of the Pixar part of Hollywood Studios. He didn't mind waving at them from a distance. But he did NOT want to get close to them. On Day 2, we spent the morning at Hollywood Studios doing Star Tours (Oh, the Loosey Giggle factor came into play here every time we jumped to light speed), watching the Jedi Training Academy (X would have been too scared of Darth Maul and Darth Vader to participate) and the Toy Story Mania ride (which is a newer better version than the Buzz one in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom. We also ate lunch at the Sci Fi Dine in (which was a giant movie screen playing old promos for 1950s science fiction films  and short cartoons like Tom and Jerry) in a darkened room for lunch before we headed over to the Animal Kingdom. We spent the afternoon there and then ate lunch at the Rain Forest Café. I had never been to one, and unless you need a lot of loud noises to drown out your child's crying, I'd skip it.


X-man really enjoyed the two park areas within the parks. The first is the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids playground (where it is impossible to keep an eye on your kids without getting on your hands and knees and going through it with them) in Hollywood Studios. It's a great way to run off any steam or whininess that has built up from waiting in line for things (which is not often a favorite past time of small children). The other free play area is a Dinosaur playground in the Animal Kingdom next to the Dinoland, USA kiddie ride section.


My favorite part of this trip was that X-man and MacTroll got some quality time, even if it was on a bus ride or at the dinner table. MacTroll's been on the road a lot, and I think having four days with no computers and TV in the middle of Disney was really very good for both of them.


X-man balked at the hour that we were going to wait for the Safari Ride in the Animal Kingdom, but they really got us through in 25 minutes! My favorite was watching this giraffe chow down on the low branches.


For breakfast on Saturday, we went to Cat Cora's restaurant on the Boardwalk. X-man got his Mickey shaped waffle. I got my fruit bowl and tea and MacTroll had an excellent breakfast skillet.


Saturday we headed over to Sea World after breakfast. X-man was very excited about getting wet at the dolphin and whale shows. It used to be... 20 years ago... that the shows were just educational bits about the animals with some background music. This dolphin show had -- um -- a plot with character development and trapeze artists. It was totally bizarre.


But X-man totally dug it. 


 Sea World doesn't have very many rides, but X-man really liked the boat ride. They got pretty wet. I took photos next to the area where other visitors could put quarters into spray guns and squirt the boat as it came by. I tried to soak them... my quarter didn't freaking work!
X-man wanted to sit as close as possible at the Killer Whale show. But as MacTroll and I sat there and read the history of whale trainer deaths at Sea World over the last 15 years, we were kind of happy to sit farther back. But we were still in the "Soak Zone." After the incident in 2010, the trainers no longer get in the water with the animals in the shows. The regular show is called "One Ocean" which MacTroll would describe as a pandering attempt at ecological education.

We could also imagine that the conversation about the decision on high to keep the trainers out of the water went something like this, "You're not allowed in the water with the animals during shows."
"What are we gonna do then?"
"You're gonna dance."

And yeah, if you're wondering, scientists doing the white man shuffle to bad music is totally the reason they invested so much in four giant moving movie screens. It draws most of the focus away from the trainers and onto the screens or to the animals.
 Yes, were this far back from the orcas, and X-man left soaked. They bring out the giant whale who flips up her tail and goes NUTS splashing people.


And since he was already wet from the Orca show, when we hit Shamu's kids area and X-man saw the water playground, we told him to go for it. I ran off for lunch and then when I returned, X-man was complaining that Sea World people told him he had to wear shoes on the other rides. Um, what? Of course you do... MacTroll just shrugged.

But then the boys went to play on the pirate ship.


This is the GIANT rope climb with all kinds of crazy tunnels and tire swings and awesomeness that X-man spent a full hour going through with and without MacTroll. Around it were a lot of kiddie rides, but X-man spent most of his time in the free play area. 


And underneath the rope climb is the seal the deal reason why Quigs will never want to go to Sea World... giant sandbox... :-)


After Sea World, we headed to Downtown Disney and ate dinner at Fresh A-Peel and visited the Babycakes Vegan bakery between the TREX café and the Lego Store. X-man got a new Lego set and built himself three mini figures before he went out to the work tables and made a car. He entered in a race and won! Then I walked him down to Once Upon a Toy and he built a Light Saber for himself.

X-man found out that MacTroll's mother is going to Disney next week with some of her other grand children. He asked if he could go back with them. We told him he had to go to school, but I told him he'd go back sometime. He asked when. I told him to talk to his Papa. :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On the Road to the Mouse

Tomorrow morning, the family and I are headed to Orlando to see Mickey Mouse. It's X-man's first trip to Disney World. When he was 3, we spent 4 hours at the California Adventure Park in California. It's a long weekend, but I have a feeling it will feel like a short vacation.

When we return there's only four more weeks before Winter break.

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and will put some up. :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Mind Divided

MacTroll and I got a family membership to the Carrie Busey PTA so that we'd know what was going on. He was hoping that he'd somehow be able to keep that day open in his schedule in order to attend meetings, but he's 1/3 right now. They don't have a meeting in December and January is when we're headed out to San José for the week. So, um, it's not going so good.

However, getting the minutes of the meetings and the electronic information on school happenings is priceless. 

But, MacTroll and I keep raising our eyebrows at the inconsistent messages beings sent home in regards to FOOD at X-man's school.

Carrie Busey is a CATCH school and it participates in the NFL Play to 60 program. These programs stress healthy eating and active lifestyles. The school gets money for following their guidelines. Win. Fine. Love it. There's an approved snack list for what can be brought in for the kids to eat with "go" and "slow" foods, and once a month they celebrate everyone in the room's birthday with some "whoa" foods. Cool. Fine. I can follow those rules and appreciate them.  X-man says there's something called a Lucky Tray Day where school workers look at kids lunches and identify what is healthy and what is not. He indicates that frequently he is told what to eat first, too. And he repeatedly comes home and says that water is the healthiest drink, but really doesn't want that in his lunch. But on occasion, maybe he'd like to buy milk, except that when I ask him every morning, he says, "No, the apple juice is easier." :-)

But here's the deal... on Halloween, we had a party. It coincided with the October birthday party. So there were snack bags (mostly with toys in them like spider rings and stampers) but there was also some candy. Apparently during our party, an announcement was made (that neither MacTroll or I heard) that Halloween candy was not welcome back in the building.

So, the next day, as a special treat, MacTroll put two Starbursts into X-man's lunch. That day, X-man jumped off the bus, ran inside and shook his finger at MacTroll about how the candy wasn't allowed in school for a long time, like in January it would be okay to bring it.

What? Huh? What's the difference between eating your two Starbursts in January versus November? It was a decent question.

Especially since it came home that day with X-man's perfect attendance certificate from school for the month of October -- and a certificate for a free kid's meal at Fazoli's, which is a lot more unhealthy for you than two Starbursts. Each kids meal with a breadstick is around 400 calories. It's not terrible, but it's all meat and cheese and bread. 

For this month, the newsletter said that to reward the children who have perfect attendance in November they would come home with certificates for meals to Fazoli's and Texas Roadhouse (I'm imagining every parent with a peanut allergy cringing at this). There is no nutritional information, currently, for the Texas Roadhouse. But since they're the usual fair of hot dog, mac and cheese, two mini cheeseburgers, fried chicken tenders and bits of steak... I guess at least here the kids can choose fresh vegetables an applesauce as the their sides, right? I guess, my problem is also the extension of this. Because although the kids menus are limited, the adults who eat with them are surrounded by extraordinarily large portions and a long list of unhealthy choices. For me, it's too much. 

Here's the other issue...  I was told during the kindergarten walk through that pretty much the only fundraisers the school did were around the Fall Family Fitness run and Scholastic book fairs. There was a dinner out at the Texas Roadhouse. X-man asked why we weren't going, and I had to explain it's because they didn't have anything his lame vegetarian mother could eat. And I love my kid, but I'm not going to sit there and sip on a Diet coke while the school makes 47 cents from his kids meal. I can spot them two quarters. Plus, I'm not really thrilled with what X-man would undoubtably pick (chicken tenders with fries and -- begrudgingly the applesauce). 

In the newsletter this month the Fifth Grade is trying to raise money to take a field trip to the Science and Industry Museum by selling -- COOKIE DOUGH AND BUTTER BREAD PASTRY.

But on the next page is a big article stressing what foods are allowed at school at snacks and how children cannot bring Whoa foods on the days of their birthdays, they must wait until the appropriate party day... It's all in CAPITAL LETTERS and bolded and all that for stress and emphasis.

So I guess what I'm saying is that all of this not walking the talk -- and then shouting about the rules -- makes me want to send Starbursts to school with him every day in some kind of passive aggressive revolt. 

Instead, I think I'm just going to start recycling the coupons. So, um, if you eat at Fazoli's frequently enough NOT on 99 cent kid meal night (which is Tuesday). Let me know, I will totally pass these on to you. X-man (unless he comes down with my wicked pink eye) is also likely to get a Texas Roadhouse certificate this month. I'm happy to give that away, too.

But maybe, maybe, our school should start soliciting places like Flat Top or Subway instead? How about Schnuck's or the Common Ground Coop for a free apple or something not eating out. Some place where most everyone can eat and have equal opportunity to make very specific choices about what goes into their mouths. 

I know this makes me (the person with plenty of Starbursts to hand out) the food Nazi, but I do not always make the healthiest of choices for myself or my child. But I'm also not in an authority position over other people's children. It's confusing me as an adult.

So when X-man was whining to me about not going to the restaurant fundraiser by saying, "It's okay to eat at the Roadhouse, Mommy, because school gave this to me, so it must be healthy!" I had to smack down that logic fast. 

Food is not easy. I don't care who you are. But it's frustrating to be watching what seems like an internal struggle of a tennis match being played out at the elementary school level.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eeghads!

We had sand in our sand table yesterday. So I wasn't really surprised that my eyes felt a bit scratchy at the end of the day. I cleaned up my room and went down for our weekly staff meeting, a very nice potluck lunch where there were veggie trays and fruit salad for me with my HMR meal. However, had I not been on the medically supervised diet, I totally would have dug into the cheesy lasagna.

Immediately, someone asked me what was wrong with my eyes. I said -- I think it's sand.

But as we sat, I was pretty quiet, which I'm not normally. I started to feel miserable like it was the last place I wanted to be. And I love work.

So, I got up and went into the kitchen where there is a mirror over the sink. My eyes were pink and there was off white goo swimming in them.

Greeeeaaaattttt!

The pink eye that had been floating around the upstairs had finally gotten to my room via me. Because I hugged and played with and changed the diapers of all of the children in that room on Wednesday.

I went upstairs and got my coat and my trash to go out. I told my supervisor I probably wouldn't be there tomorrow. I told my co-teacher what the plan was and that it was posted outside the door.

Then I picked up X-man from school and we took a trip to Convenient Care.

Definite pink eye. I have the drops. But as a woman who washed her hands 23 times in 4 hours today and washes things with bleach water all day, I have to admit I get really annoyed when people tell me I need to be sure to wash my hands.

So, it's not pretty. And there's really only tears because the light from the computer screen hurts my eyes... This is your Loosey -- on pink eye.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Volunteering at School

Who knew that volunteering at the library at my child's elementary school once a week would come with such entertainment.

It's never boring, and I love it.

Today, in the middle of the second Scaredy Squirrel book that Ms. Cahill was reading the children, Mr. Scott, the principal, got on the horn and announced that we needed to move into the hall for a tornado warning.

We hung out for around 15-20 minutes until the warning expired, went in, finished the book and then the children got to check out the books.

But here's what I learned today.
1) In the event of a tornado, the kids are sitting in the halls.
2) Scaredy squirrel is apparently a television show now. I had no idea.
3) Most of the kids got through the warning okay, but one was in tears the rest of the afternoon because she wanted her parents.
4) I totally go through the paperback easy books when I'm there and find the ones I think the kids will want to read and put them in the front of the baskets so they're easier for people to find. It never fails that 5 people in his class end up picking up those books, which is a big number because only half the class remembered to bring back their library books from last week.
5) The books are in from the online ordering done for the Scholastic Book sale and should come home with the students this week.

So, see, going to elementary school is a learning experience even when you're 35.

:-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Teacher Fight! Teacher Fight!

Yesterday, I drove to Kankakee for an all-day early education training seminar. It was the first one I had gone to that wasn't held at my school. The first session was on Behavior Management in the classroom. There were a wealth of early educators there from a variety of programs (in-home care, which I guess is now called family care, private all day day cares, faith-based care centers and a private kindergarten). Most of them were from the Chicago suburbs and I was the only one from the central part of the state and the only one from a "community organization" pre-school.

Discipline in the classroom varied widely. All the pre-k teachers talked about the individual needs of the child and how to best encourage and support children. The K teachers in that group all talked about needing to have equal standards in the classrooms and how unfair it is to have disciplinary policy based on different standards for different kids.

They were not moved by the pre-k special education speaker's discussion about different learning abilities, the need for some kids to move or her argument that when an altercation happens, you first pay all of the attention to the victim. They also didn't appreciate that she thought their public charting system of behavior was a public form of shaming the child.

Being a pretty low-key early childhood educator who always wonders if I should be more of a hard ass in the classroom and a parent of a kindergartner who literally saw a school room transform to try to meet the individual intellectual and behavior demands of the students who weren't succeeding -- I found it very uncomfortable to sit in between the two sections. I brought up X-man's classroom as an example of a kindergarten teacher who responded to the needs and changed her standards in order to support her students more. The kindergarten teachers who were there kind of huffed at me and said that I was lucky, because that's not how it's going to be once they get in first grade.

And I wanted to say, yes it is, because we have teachers and administrators who want children to succeed and understand that sometimes my way or the high way isn't the way to go. I haven't gotten a negative note home in weeks, and my child has stopped evaluating his days by how many checks he gets (he hasn't lost recess in over a month).

At parent/teacher conferences what impressed me most was his teacher's understanding with my child's intentions. That he wants to be one of the kids who gets awarded for good behavior, he has trouble with self-control, which makes sense because his executive function isn't all the way developed yet. There's still significant pruning going on there... and there will be until he's 20.

I could see both sides of the argument (because it definitely wasn't a discussion), but at the same time, as a teacher, I tended to side with the other pre-k folks.

The afternoon's session was all about nature and education. Research has shown that kids spend less than 1/2 percent of their time having free, unstructured play in the natural outdoors (without a playground). So, the seminar talked about ways to increase interactions with nature at your center. It was a lot of fun, and I really liked the speakers.

So, that was my working Saturday. :-) When we got home we went to the neighbor's for a birthday party and then down the road to drop X-man off at the Savoy Recreation Center for date night, while MacTroll and I came home and did the annual cleaning out of toys in the basement. I tried to do this with X-man last year, but it was a long negotiation, and in the end, he would only give up one thing. Then I went through the house, filled up the back of my car and took it to Goodwill, and in a year, he's only noticed that one thing has gone missing. So, um, this year, I did the shitty parent thing and just didn't ask and started cleaning things out.

Okay, time to run in the stupid wind. At least it's warm outside!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Artistic Friday

X-man was off school yesterday. In the morning we went to FCC, so that I could finish up parent/teacher conferences. The kids all played while we met. It was great. We also ran into Lavender Lemonade's spouse and three children who were letting Mom get some sleep after her night shift. I cannot believe how much her Mealyworm looks like her mother did when she was 5. I was there, after all, I remember!

After an hour at FCC, we headed over to the playplace at McDonald's where MacTroll was supposed to meet us "a little after 11 a.m." We were there at 11:05 a.m. He showed up at 11:37 a.m. X-man was done with his lunch, so MacTroll ate his McDonald's and then we all went to the Paint Your Own Pottery Place at Round Barn. This is X-man's new favorite hobby.

We were there last weekend when it was raining and cold. I thought it was going to be like taking a bull into a china shop, but he was totally into it. They were really crowded last weekend, but on Friday it was empty, so I let X-man put his own paints in his palette. He had painted a duck bank that we picked up when it was time to go home. He calls it "Clack, Clack" the duck. And he was holding it and talking to it and petting it on the couch during quiet time as he watched Inspector Gadget. He asked if we could go back and paint a cookie jar for his teacher for a gift and fill it with cookies that we bake.

I told him I thought that was a very sweet idea that many people might like at the holidays. Then he reminded me, like he read my mind, that he needed to go shopping at the Crisis Nursery sale at Lincoln Square again. You write a check for a donation, give them a list of the gifts the child should buy for. And a volunteer helps him stick to his budget and wrap all the presents he picks out. And you get a gift from your child that only he knows about. It's very sweet and it's for a great cause.

I also know that I'm back "in the box" at Weight Management, not just because I'm eating all of their proteins and carbs and snacking on all the veggies and fruit I can muster. But, like last time, the dreams have started again. In last night's dream I consumed 3/4 of a cake I baked. It was fabulous. I ate it until I felt sick. Then remembered in my dream I was not supposed to eat it and felt guilty.

It's not unlike the dream where I slept with Brad Pitt and got pregnant and then remembered I had a boyfriend.

Cake = Brad Pitt (circa 1996)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Like Mother, Like Son

So, you look at my child and it's very clear that he looks like MacTroll's Mini-me.

But if you watch my child long enough, you'll actually see Loosey-like traits. For example, he is very clumsy. He cares very much about his people, and he likes to know who is people really are and why they're his people. He's very hot and cold. And he is melodramatic.

He also can't be still. :-)

But today, he reminded me of 5-year-old Looseyfur who would spend all of her time after school in front of one cartoon -- Tom and Jerry.

After tennis lessons today, the cat and the mouse were on the TV. X-man sat down, curled into me for a snuggle and then watched 20 minutes of Tom and Jerry -- giggling furiously.

I'm not gonna lie. It made me love him more.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Driving Craziness

I'm not sure what was going on today, but it seemed to me that there was an influx of folks on the street. X-man and I left for school at 7:31 today. That's 1 minute later than normal. And maybe there was a long train, because the traffic at Neil and Church was backed up all the way to Tickseed, so we turned right and went up to Curtis, which was backed up to the retirement home. So we ended up on Windsor, which was less crowded, but, of course, I hit every light on the way from Windsor to Mattis.

It must have happened to everyone because when I got to school at 7:50 a.m., I had to wait for a few minutes to pull around into the lot for drop off. It was fine, X-man got to school. But the 10-minute drive became 20, which is just uck on a Monday morning. Mostly because it was a long day today (work to volunteering to homework to Lego Club/Workout to running and errand) so we put Lily in Doggie Daycare for the day so she could play and not be crated forever. I usually do that on Wednesdays because that's also a long day, so she'll get to go twice.

By the time I dropped Lily off at Georgia's K-9 Comforts at Animal Outfitters, it was 8:03 a.m. And I walked into school at 8:10 a.m. 25 minutes later than normal. Luckily for me, Ms. Rachel was there early and was able to help me get the room together.

Then after X-man and I left school, we saw an accident in the rain at the corner of Prospect and Kirby. And on our way to the Rec Center at 4 p.m. we saw the Sheriff and an ambulance burn rubber on Rt 45 south to probably another accident.

On our way home during rush minute 5:20 p.m., with Lily in the car, the traffic heading south on Rt. 45 was insane. I actually had to wait for a green light to turn right because there were so many cars.

So, um, did we just import a lot of people this week, or is everyone just suddenly driving because the weather is crap?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

You Remind Me of Home

Whenever I dream at night of "home," I always dream of the house I grew up from 1979ish until my high school graduation. I have never dreamed of college or any apartment or house I've lived in past the age of 18. It's always of home or high school. How bizarre is that?

Anyway, last night I had a dream where my maternal grandmother, a very tiny woman who passed away from complications from Alzheimer's when I was a junior in college, lived next door to that childhood home. I was going over to visit her a lot in my dream because she was starting to not remember me, even though she was happy when I came over. I wanted to get to know her as an adult. I wanted to take care of her. I wanted to spend some time with her.

And then, poof, one morning I went over to her house in my dream and my mother told me she was dead. I woke up out of my deep sleep with a sense of shock and sadness. And then I soothed myself with 10 minutes of Tiny Tower and went back to sleep with my husband and our very snuggly puppy, whose tail is wagging off the roof that X-man is coming down the stairs right now making very loud mouth noises.

So I better run and get him some breakfast before I go to volunteer at a water table at the Rattlesnake Master 5k/10k with Savoy Rotary.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Skin craziness

X-man has Molluscum Contagiosum. He picked it up last November during swim lessons at the Urbana Aquatic Center. At least we're pretty sure it was there because it was the last time he was shirtless in the last 12 months. It started to spread a little by his 5 year appointment in March, so we asked our pediatrician about it. She recommended leaving it be because it should go away in 2 years or so. She also said to keep it covered when he was swimming (because it can be contagious), but other than that it was nothing to keep away from people. Medicating it would be difficult and burning the bumps off of a five year old didn't sound like fun to anyone.

But I noticed there were more and more of them this summer, so I consulted a dermatologist. It took a while to find the right solution for X-man (he has kind of sensitive skin), but now we've got something that we put on the bumps around five or six every other night. We leave it on for 60 minutes under some protective tape and then we clean it off. It doesn't look too effective after the hour, but 24 hours later, it's clear that the stuff has burned through the growth and is (hopefully) killing off whatever is below it so the virus doesn't spread. In between the applications, we apply Neosporin and let X-man pick out a band-aid if he's afraid he'll fuss with it. (My son is the boy who tears apart socks at school every day, after all).

At this point, looking at his belly, it looks like I've been throwing some kind of acid on him. He says they don't hurt, so that's good. But at the same time he's littered with little tiny welts. We're keeping an eye on them. Just because we've tried two meds that were too drying and caused some really dry, chapped skin and one that didn't seem to do anything at all. But I really like the dermatologist, and X-man enjoys seeing him (and all the pictures of animals outside his office). So that's a win/win.

Now, if only I could find someone that could solve the sock picking issue.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blissful Agony

I went out and ran my first run since, um, May. It's hard after an injury to realize exactly  how hard it is to start entirely over as a runner after being off your feet for so long. And all the cross training in the world might keep your cardiovascular system going, but it all goes to hell when your body isn't used to running carrying a weight bearing load. Particularly one that is registering at 173 rather than 160 these days. But it's not the 250 I was, so I'm totally keeping perspective.

I followed my podiatrist's directions and ran a block, walked a block. I lasted 27 minutes and went 1.92 miles. I'm trying not to think of the time when my daily routine was an easy 5-7 miles... with no walking. I'm trying to think about how thankful I am that I can run at all. In all honesty, the big accomplishment here that I am most proud of is that I was up -- and out the door by 5:15 a.m. Holy cow am I ready for that whole "fall back" thing this Saturday.

In other running news, in my running absence, my Polar ran out of batteries. I apparently didn't read the fine print when I bought it because I have to SEND it somewhere to get the battery changed out to ensure I don't mess up the "water resistant" elements of my watch. The closest approved service center is Michigan, so off it goes in the mail today. I guess while they're changing the watch battery, I'll just have them change the transmitter one too, so that in three weeks, when I'm using it again, the other half doesn't go out. :-)

My orthotics came in the mail, too. I'm going to wear them to work today and see how they go. The doctor said they might need to be "filed down" to fit better.

After Thanksgiving, I start a twice a week, three week workout routine with Kari Gardner. She works with some of my friends, and I'm really excited about it. I'm hoping to get rid of the doughy middle I've accumulated by February. I work out with her, and then she gives me a plan to follow for a while. Then I can return and update as needed. I'm also hoping to be able to join her post-holiday fitness classes on Saturday mornings this winter.

In cat news: Clawdio came home. All of his labs were normal (hooray). But his temp was low and he was dehydrated for some reason. They think he had a vagal response or a seizure, but in a cat his age, it's kind of hard to know unless it happens again and I can get him to the vet quickly or they're around during an episode.  Since the vet is a 20-minute drive, that's hard to do, when the episode only lasted 3 minutes. But he's only had one of them, soooo we'll hope it doesn't happen again. Right now he's trying to scam a second breakfast off of me. :-) He knows I'm a sucker.

Other than that, want to see something funny?





Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

I know I only had 20 readers out there, and I'm sure that taking a 3-week break that was both sudden and unexpected seemed rude, but it couldn't really be avoided. I needed something, and in a lot of ways, I found it.

In a giant axe on social media I stopped blogging. I also fell off of the Facebook wagon. I'd been doing daily updates there, sometimes multiple updates, since 2007, when I taught at Millikin. And although I understand and totally believe that I have been able to maintain and even rekindle friendships that I haven't had in years with people that I've always felt very positive about. I also felt like I was doing most of my relating through a computer rather than in person. And it annoyed me. I also wanted to see how much time I'd free up and how much more sleeping I'd do if I wasn't just meandering around Facebook (and Foursquare) during my down time. 

The truth is, I'm probably much better off Facebook. You have no idea how many times in the last few weeks something has happened that I boiled down to a 15-word update. My life shouldn't be boiled down. In addition, it was also hard to realize that some things are better to just keep to yourself. This applied with both good and bad things. So, the decision is still out about whether I'll ever go back to Facebook or check-in again on Foursquare. Right now I've removed both from my phone and iPad. But I also realized that I kind of missed my blog. It let's me process things, and although I tried to write in a journal about them, I'm a much faster typer than I am writer any more. And I wanted to save that paper for elements that I can't put in a public forum. Stuff that I'm still cooking in my brain.

So, what's been going through my mind lately?

First and foremost, work. I've been working a lot. I'm getting ready for my first section of parent/teacher conferences and that takes a lot of prep work. We're hiring teachers at MMO, but not having much luck attracting folks. We only pay $9.65 an hour, but the work is great for a student or a working parent. You can choose 5 days, 2 or 3 days or to sub. You need to have an interest in early childhood education and development, the college credits to back that up (6 credits to sub, more to be a teacher) and you have to be reliable, punctual and patient. On the flip side, I've never ever worked with more wonderful people. They're kind, flexible and totally invested in the students and their families. It's really the best job, I've ever had, in a lot of different ways. I know it's hard to justify working somewhere that requires educational background when you can make more money working for Schnuck's, but it's a non-profit pre-school. We work with babies... and it's amazing to watch them transform. 

Second, I got my walking cast off. I've been on a few walks for exercise, but MacTroll's been gone and the two hours I have to myself have been eaten up by filling out P/T evaluations for work. So I'm not back on the fitness wagon. But I have some personal trainings sessions to use with Kari Gardiner starting after Thanksgiving. So, hopefully I'll get my body back into it before too long.

Third, I start back at Weight Management in the weight loss phase on Thursday. That means I'm in their box. I can eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables on my own but my protein and carbs are controlled, but if I turn you down to eat out or come to a party, don't think it's because of you. It's totally a thing for me. I'm doing this for the next 12 weeks. That's a lot of holiday crap to avoid. Plus, I've been a vegetarian for almost 3 weeks. It's going well. 

Fourth, I'm ready for 2011 to be over. I'd like to start over with some new positivity. I had a very good friend lose her mother and her twins (a boy and a girl) during birth this week. My heart goes out to her because as difficult as I found the pregnancy/labor/delivery part of motherhood... I still got to take my baby home. She had to say goodbye at the hospital. You're supposed to leave with a baby, something that makes all that trauma and body change worthwhile. So many people say goodbye at hospitals, that I think they firmly need to have more hellos to balance out the sadness in the rest of the building. 

Fifth, one of the realities of motherhood is that you just can't be friends with someone who appears to not like your child, but does appear to like you. On the flip side, I'm totally willing to put up with an annoying parent if my child is in love with his/her child. Oh, and if someone gives you one of those Boo things on Halloween, please put the stupid ghost on your door. Because you can be sure that the child who handpicked who he wanted to give them to will ask his mother to drive by your house every day until Halloween asking why they didn't put up the ghost to show that they got your gift -- that my five year old picked out and did his "secret" drop off in the pouring rain because he took it to heart that there was a time deadline and wanted to give your child something special. It makes him feel like you don't like him -- even though it's a secret gift and you have no idea it came from him.

Sixth, I do not believe my child is ideal. He's human. He's totally too rough and tumble. He sees things still from his own perspective. He's impatient and often annoying. But he's also kind and gentle. He's also giving and generous. He's as smart as he is not. He's as manic as he is calm. He's walking a line that's different from other children, just like other children are different from him. I'm very happy that he has a teacher and administrators at school who understand that. His 60-day observation came back that he was just like a normal kindergartener. (Hooray.) 

Seventh, I've been hearing a lot of "blame the teacher" lately around parentland.  I was raised by a teacher. I know better than that. Everyone is doing the best they can. The point is that parents and teachers are supposed to be a team -- like on the same team. You work together for the benefit of a child. You put your adult-sized panties on and stop whining and get in there and dig. And most of all you have patience and a good sense of humor mixed with some optimism. Each teacher has different strengths and weaknesses. And each year you have to get used to a new one, just as that teacher has to get used to your child. It'll be okay. Just breathe -- and for shit sake stop talking bad about people behind their backs. Particularly to other parents. If you're frustrated, talk to your teacher. Don't talk around your teacher. 

Eighth, being on the Savoy Rotary rocks. Anyone want to come and visit with me at lunch one day as a potential future member? We do service projects once a month for 2-4 hours. And we meet each Thursday at the Windsor of Savoy for lunch at noon. It's a great way to make connections inside the Savoy community if you want to connect to businesses and residents. And it's small (only 30 of us), so you will get to know everyone. 

Nineth, it pretty much looks like we'll put our house up for sale in February 2013. You got that right, in 15 months. We'll see how long it takes. I've had friends going on taking two years to sell their homes now. Hopefully, there will be a good buyer out there somewhere when we need them. 

Tenth, I'm sick today. I had a fever on/off all last night. So I thought I'd take the day off and rest. Except that my cat Clawdio  cried out this morning at 6:30 a.m. ran out from under my bed, opened his mouth and let out a bunch of saliva and had some clear fluid run out of his eyes and then he started panting like mad. I rushed him to the emergency vet. He still had labored breathing and his temperature was low. They transferred him to Dr. Mary at All Creatures at 8 a.m. I haven't heard anything yet. He's 14 years old with cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis and feline herpes. He lost his best friend, Nyssa, not long ago. And I know that's what old people do... they lose their loved ones and then end up passing a couple months later. But he's my cat. He's supposed to live to be 23 and be cranky and not like anyone else but me. 

And that's what you missed that I'm willing to write about right now.