Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Similar Curiosities

My friend Ro is visiting for a couple days this week on her drive from Washington State to Washington, D.C. Ro and I were friends when we both lived in that area, and after nearly 10 years of living in Canada, California, Mexico and Washington State, she is returning there.

I am very thankful to have friends all over the globe. Even though I don't see them often, it's lovely when we do get a chance to get together, the chemistry is just there.

Anyway, recently Ro has found out that she can't eat gluten, dairy or any foods that are fermented or aged (no cheese or wine). And as she talked to me about it we found that even though our issues with food are different, we have both become interested in the history of food and examining how people eat. We want to learn more.

In Ro's situation, eating organic isn't really great for her. She needs the pesticides to kill the molds that make her sick. Then she has a special wash to get the stuff off the food. But like me, she often goes through moods where she wants to eat like everyone else, like she used to. And every time she does, she figures out that although her brain may appreciate the shots of seratonin and dopamine, her body, particularly her digestive system, doesn't at all appreciate it.

Drugging the mind and ruining the body...

So, we sat last night and talked for hours. It was lovely. She's here for one more night before she carries on to her final destination. I hope to get out east to see her when she gets settled in her new place sooner rather than later.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

He Could Walk 100 Miles

X-man and I signed up for the 100-mile club at the Savoy Recreation Center. When I was running for the half marathon, I accumulated miles much, much more quickly than I do now. But since I've been limited to walking, biking and swimming, it's slowed down a lot. Mostly because unlike the Walk to the Moon competition last year, this program doesn't count other forms of exercise that's not walking or running.

Anyway, today X-man wanted to go mini putting. He was going to go with Papa yesterday, but the course was closed due to the weather. So even when the storms stopped, it was a no go (Papa made it up to him by taking him to Marble Slab. He was quite keen on the idea that X-man could totally direct him straight to the ice cream store from mini putt. :-)

I told him that if he stopped whining (because holy cow that's been terrible for the last two days), we could walk as a family to Old Orchard Links. He was great on the way there, but then he golfed 36 holes and was really tired walking back. He swore his feet were hurting him, so I told him he could walk barefoot after we stopped for drinks at Sonic, and we'd carry him over the roads where there was gravel.

He did okay. We even got to stop and wave at Rogers and see a train go by up close. The engineers waved, and he had questions about everything in the cars, as usual.

When little legs only walk .25 or .5 miles at a time, two miles is a lot. He's only got until September to finish it, and he's just past a half marathon (he started a month ago). So, I'm hoping that he enjoys the quiet time until dinner and then is still tired enough to fall asleep relatively early after bath. My plans are to finish laundry hell 2011, and MacTroll is going to mow the yard before it rains again.

That is after I finish rolling a frozen bottle of water under my heel for 15 minutes and MacTroll finishes watching Young Justice with X-man.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Can't Wash My Hands Enough Today

Today, my dad came down to take X-man out and about so that MacTroll and I could clean the garage. It was in dire need. We had all that flooring put in during the cold months, and they did all the cutting in the garage. So dust was everywhere. Plus, we had the whole mouse issue, which means there were mouse turds. And then... Quigs' favorite... the spring spider infiltration. Our garbage is full, our recycling is full, and things are more organized. Although I'm still hoping for some peg board to put all of our tools on and a work bench, just because it'll give me a chance to clean out all the "tool" junk drawers in the house. (When MacTroll can't find something -- he just goes and buys something new. No lie. We have four different sets of Allen Wrenches because he keeps losing the 5/32.)

If anyone needs a hammock stand or a seed/fertilizer spreader (we even have some pet friendly fertilizer unopened in a bag) let me know. If not, I'm cleaning them up and dropping them off somewhere.

Afterwards, MacTroll ran out looking for a studfinder and in search of a new pole to fix a broken shelf support in our garage. I ran to Target... to get to Target. :-)

You can totally tell I haven't lived in my house for the last four days. I ran in yesterday for a moment to change clothes and it was disgusting. It's looking a bit better. But Holy Cow, MacTroll should never be left alone to his own devices. He just doesn't notice things... for example: I have to make an appointment on Monday for my two boy cats -- Luke and Clawdio. Something is going on... either healthwise or between them, because one keeps peeing out the front of the box and randomly pooped near the front stairs the other day. And the other pooped under X-man's bed and peed in the bottom drawer of his dresser where his pjs are. How a boy puts on PJs, and doesn't notice that he stinks, I don't know. How a grown man lives in a house and can't smell the pee and poop until it's placed right in front of his doormat, I don't know either. But you know they're used to me and my scooping practices.

So, yeah, it's gonna be that kind of weekend for me. If it would freaking dry out I could do something about the mulch in my driveway. Last weekend was crazy gusty wind. This weekend is torrential downpours. Apparently, Mother Nature doesn't give a shit about my schedule.

Oh, and as for Riley, he's doing a bit better. His movement has greatly improved on the medicines. But his left hind leg is still gimpy from time to time. He's being spoiled with wet food. :-)

Friday, May 27, 2011


Sorry that I've been absent. I've been part of a sociological experiment this week. I moved across the street to look after the Supers' kids while they attended an awards trip. Mr. Super did outstanding work and got rewarded with a trip for two out west. And, like my parents, the Super Grandparents all work, so I volunteered to be a caretaker of a nearly two year old and a four year old. Both are lovely little girls with curly hair and awesome giggles.

I was worried at first about the youngest. She's super attached to her mama. And for good reasons. SuperShanna is amazing. As it turns out, the baby and I totally bonded. But I learned quite a lot about caring for three kids for 24 hours a day over the last four days. These won't surprise any of my friends with three kids. And there are several of them out there.

First, you have to be comfortable with chaos. Second, you have to keep your wits and humor about you. Three, you have to realize you're outnumbered and call in support when you have it. And last, you have to understand that there's a big chance one of the three will be totally unhappy with you at every moment of the day -- so be comfortable being the bad guy.

After all of that it's a lot of logistics. In our case the weather turned sour. So we did playdough and drawing and hair salon. I took the kids on field trips to the Orpheum Science Museum and the indoor park. The few moments the weather was nice, we were in the backyard or at the park. But there were times when schedules conflicted. So, MacTroll was called in to be at the house at 6:45 am, so I could make a 7 am physical therapy appointment. Or he put the baby down for her nap, while I picked up lunch and took the kids to a pre-school picnic. And I'm a believer now that should you have more than two kids you have to have a minivan or giganto SUV. Or at least a car that's not my Rav-4 because there's not space for a third carseat in the middle. If we all went somewhere we took two cars.

Then there's the food. Someone is always hungry. And even though you think you're ordering enough pizza for leftovers, there's suddenly a 30-minute tornado warning that makes everyone ravenously hungry... And there's only enough leftovers for two the next day.

I also had a steep learning curve. But I deal with infants and toddlers at work so you learn the difference between the "I effing wanna do this myself" frustrated scream and the "Get your butt over here and help me get my leg unstuck" scream. :-) You also get a frontrow look at how siblings problem solve. X-man and SuperC are only 8 months apart. And they've known each other since they were SuperE's age (20 months). So they fight like siblings. X-man knows SuperC hates it when she talks to him and he doesn't answer. SuperC knows it drives X-man nuts when she threatens to revoke her friendship if he won't play what she wants to play. It takes about 5 minutes of them whining at me and not getting the intervention they want before they negotiate and come up with a way to satisfy them both.

I am listening while all this goes on. But in my brain, I'm diapering a super happy, but poopy, baby who loves to shout "boodabah!" in my ear over and over. So, you know, trying to contain poop and prevent any rolling of a super toddler takes precident over squabbling.

Again, wits and humor. But for the most part, they were three amazing kids. X-man and SuperC took turns in the car writing their letters and numbers with a pen and paper. (Just a note that this is something they chose to do). They also were great at sharing toys and bedtime books. And SuperE, at almost two, was a total caretaker. X-man bumps his head E pats him on the back. SuperC falls out of her flip flop and hurts her arm and E gives her a cup of water. Turns out E has empathy in spades. And it's delightful to see.

MacTroll and I only have the one kid, and unless we have a drastic change of heart and adopt (and he stops traveling) we'll only ever have one. But being around the girls made me realize that even though parenting might require us to have less time together, we're really a pretty good team.

But I have to admit, I felt like I was giving my all, but that the littlest got most of my attention. And in the capacity of big brother, X-man didn't mind. He was particularly good about listening for her at bedtime and at wake up time. He didn't knock her over and didn't get jealous that she took up vital mom real estate (my lap and arms). But at the end of the day, he got to lie in bed with me while he read his books and I read the news and chat with me about the world. Then his eyes got droopy and off to sleep he went, while some radio station broadcast suddenly came over the baby monitor. There's just no training for parenthood. It's just a giant bootcamp that lasts the rest of your life.

So, parents with multiples and parents who are by yourselves... I am, as always, in awe of your patience and skill. Even with three fabulous kiddos, I was wiped at the end of the day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vacation then a Staycation then a Never Mind

The family was going to head down to Atlanta for vacation on June 2. MacTroll and I registered to do a triathlon, but with Riley's health we decided that a) we weren't going to leave our dog in his days of need and b) even if he passes away this week, we're not going to feel much like vacation.

So, we canceled everything. Nearly everything was refundable except for a night at the Aloft in Nashville and our race registration. But it's all sunk costs now.

As I type this Riley is splayed out on the couch with droopy eyes. His blood issues have made me pretty curious about my own, so as soon as I can remember to fast (i.e. I meant to do it this a.m. but forgot and ate oatmeal), I'll be going in to get blood pulled to see how my iron/platelets are doing.

No, I don't think I have cancer because my dog does. But it's been almost six months since my last pull, due to all the slowness of getting things taken care of with gynecology.

MacTroll is undoing his vacation request for Atlanta, so he'll have more days to use sometimes later. Not sure what we'll do with them. But no use wasting them on hanging around at home more than he needs to.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It is with Great Sadness that I Report...

Dr. Mary contacted us today. Riley has splenic hemangiosarcoma. We'll be making him as happy and as comfortable as we can for whatever time he has left. He's not a candidate to have his spleen removed due to the fact that he is so anemic that his platelet count is currently so low that his blood will not clot. Even though the ultrasound didn't show any mets, the fact that his mobility is limited is a strong indicator that tumors have disrupted his central nervous system.

We'll be trying to do all of his favorite things while we can do them while we prepare to say goodbye.

I hate cancer. Hate it.

A Raving Success

Last night X-man had his first sleep over. Bubba came over at 6 p.m. I wasn't nervous about playing, because they have a blast lately every time they're together. It's not often, but it's definite quality time. There were no arguments at all. When X-man got too pushy playing, Bubba used his big boy words and X-man changed his behavior and they kept playing. When Bubba wanted to calm down and watch a movie, X-man immediately asked him what he wanted to watch and then told me that because Bubba was the guest we could watch his favorite movie first.

The best part was that Bubba and X-man got to learn how their bedtime routines and eating routines were different. And as they learned about each other, I'd hear words from X-man like, "Here we read books, then brush our teeth, then we get to play for a few minutes, then mommy tucks us in and we can color in our beds or look at books until we fall asleep. Is that okay, Bubba?"

And Bubba would say, "Okay, sounds good to me." The only adjustment was that X-man sleeps with half of his room lit up because of his fear of the dark. And Bubba couldn't sleep with all the lights. :-) So we compromised, and they were both content.

If Bubba wasn't so sure about something -- like our brand of toothpaste, he and I would negotiate. Finally he liked the idea of brushing just with water. :-) No funny tastes that way.

I was also so proud of Bubba to be able to fall asleep in a strange place, on a strange air mattress in X-man's room. That's a big deal to me. At my first sleepover, I got scared and the dad had to drive me home at 1 a.m. And with kids this young, I expect that at some time that will happen. But Bubba was a total trooper.

Right now it's 12:20, Bubba went home about two and a half hours ago. And X-man just said, "Mom, I miss Bubba. It was nice to have a good friend to play with all day."

So, my guess is, we'll be doing this again sometime soon. :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

If I Were My Husband...

I would totally spend the ample amount of time I spend in airports writing down weird ass things people say and then I'd sell it as some kind of coffee table quote book. I visited four airports today flying back from Montreal (hey, it was a free ticket... I don't get to argue about free when gas is $4 a gallon). Anyway, Montreal was obviously the most normal airport. It was the start of a long holiday weekend in Canada so families were everywhere. They've done a lot of restructuring of the airport inside and out, so there are more food choices than there used to be where American Airlines flies out. It was nice to walk in and get a yogurt parfait and a San Pellegrino at 7 a.m. It was nicer that at 6 a.m. when I left the W hotel by cab, it was bright and sunny outside.

Anyway, Montreal's airport has, since I was last there in October, gotten free wifi. No more Boingo Hotspot for $6.95. It would be really nice if LaGuardia and O'Hare had the same option. It was an hour flight into New York, and the pilot took us on a nice cruise over the Empire State Building and then over Ground Zero. I haven't been to NYC since 1999. I keep thinking MacTroll and I should go for a long weekend, but then the moment passes. (By the way, my husband who hates to shop anywhere that's not the Gap Outlet Store in Tuscola, CLEANED up shopping on Fifth Avenue in 1999. I was shocked. I guess when you have store after store after store you're excited about new duds. I don't know what the difference was between that and the fact that we lived two miles from Tyson's Corner in Northern Virginia with most of the same stores, but hey, I'm all for people finding things they like in stores.)

LaGuardia Airport is also undergoing renovations. It's an armpit of an airport. I hate any airport where you have to LEAVE security to get to another terminal. That's just asking for trouble. Plus, the gate agent and the people leaving on the 11:55 a.m. flight to Chicago (I went out on the next one), were extremely rude. They were calling people by their group numbers to board, but people kept trying to bud in and board out of order, and the agent kept sending them away to wait their turns. Plus, then they'd all crowd in so the people being called couldn't get to the jetbridge. MacTroll informs me that these people are called "gate lice."

So the AA agent gets on and in much nicer words than these admonishes the folks for not listening and basically calls them stupid and impatient. It was awesome. There was also some psycho girl who kept talking about all the stars her Dad helps out because he runs a bodyguard business in Manhattan. An older man who was taking a call about my hometown Rockford and then realized the entire gate could hear him and suddenly got all paranoid -- while he was being super loud. Then there was the drug user, former Harvard student who was sitting next to me talking to her brother in Chicago about a mess of dumb ass things. It was awesome. I put some of the quotes up on Facebook. It had been awhile since that much random crazy had been within 10 feet of me.

As it turns out my 1:35 flight to Chicago was much less crazy. Although it did have a couple assholes on it who were, not a surprise, both sitting next to me. You know the kind. The plane door has closed, we're taxiing to the runway, the announcement has been made to put away electronic devices -- and one asshole is still texting and the other is still talking -- loudly on his phone. So the flight attendant has to ask -- twice. And then just before we're turning to take off has to literally scold them into putting them away.

In Chicago, it was business as usual. I picked up a salad at CIBO Express with some flavored water and sat down at G19A to eat it. Then we boarded the plane to Champaign. Again, nothing special, until we were getting out bags off the baggage claim and suddenly shouting happens. A young man had just returned from two weeks in some kind of military program. A group of people were there to meet him (although he was really confused as to how to exit the Champaign airport from the gates -- which is weird because there are only 4 gates and one security hallway in the whole airport). Anyway, down at the baggage claim the kid's mother starts SCREAMING that this girl that she doesn't know is trying to turn her son against his own mother. The son is walking away from her embarrassed. Then the girl starts to shout at the mother. The mother shouts back. Then the son says, "I'm gone for two weeks and this shit is still going on?" And he walks out of the airport. Everyone at the baggage claim looks dumbfounded and then they start to laugh, because what the hell else do you do when weird talk-show-esque fights erupt in public. How odd.

Tonight, we have a special guest at our house. Bubba came over and he and X-man have been playing cars and Batman and Transformers all night while they eat pizza, watch movies and share 3D Super Mario Gummis. Bubba was totally awesome about clean up, and he only admonished MacTroll a bit when he missed a spot of pizza sauce during his wipe down of the table. But he was ever so polite about it.

Quigs will also be glad to know that it's God that saves Hiccup in How to Save Your Dragon. :-) Toothless is apparently part of the Lord's Army.

I'll have pre-school graduation show movies at some point, but MacTroll apparently didn't move his butt to the right side of the room when he filmed it with his iPhone (He took the camera, but didn't realize the battery was in the charger.) and so most of the films and photos are of the rest of the class and the top of X-man's head on the other side of the room.

But getting back to where I started from -- MacTroll travels 10-13 days a month. Do you know how much crazy he could capture at airports during that time? He could totally put a book together and sell it on Amazon.

Oh, and still no definitive word on Riley. Our vet had some questions that she didn't get from the radiologist, so we'll find out on Monday, or if she calls/e-mails earlier once she hears from him. He's eaten by himself today and is able to walk around okay on flat surfaces. I'll be spending the night on the couch downstairs just in case he needs to get up in the middle of the night. MacTroll's been doing it since I was gone, so it's only fair that it's my turn.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Recanting my bitterness

Okay, so Ms. M told me to apologize to the Houston's waitress. She wasn't really trying to be rude and shove her awesome bilingual brain power in my stupid Anglo face. She was being accommodating and trying to make the experience easy on me.

So, Houston's waitress. I'm sorry. I was a little bit cranky when I wrote yesterday's blog post. And if I had a body that made men and women stare like that, I'd probably flash a little happiness, too.


As it is, I had a total bitch of a time sleeping last night. I kept waking up for no reason every hour, and I didn't fall asleep until past midnight. I was totally in need of a giant hug.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here We Go

I fell asleep last night early. I had pulled the drapes shut so that it was pitch black in the room. And I didn't wake up until my phone went off. I had enough time to get up and shower and get ready to meet my friend Sully for lunch.

For some reason Canadian chains periodically name their restaurants after US cities. It doesn't make sense to me. Boston's Pizza... Who wants pizza from Boston? We had lunch up the street at Houston's. It's a steak joint. I get that. Texas = cattle. But what I don't get is -- why pick the name Houston? Out of all the cities in Texas, why that one? Isn't Austin or Dallas just as dandy?

But that's neither here nor there. The waitstaff was all early 20's, mostly women. Mostly naked women. :-) Tight black dresses, boobs hanging out everywhere. I felt terribly over dressed in my shoulderless t-shirt and jeans, particularly when she'd bend over to wipe a table. And Sully, bless him, was doing his best not to have his eyes wander in that direction. But I wasn't as good about the boob observation when she'd lean over to refill my water glass. Breasts, breasts, breasts... "Oooh, when did my water get refilled?"

If the revealing clothes weren't enough, I ordered in my lame French, and she immediately spoke to me in English as soon as the dirty words Coke Diete came out of my mouth. French to Sully, of course. English to Loosey. Grrr! At least let a girl try. What's worse is that the menu is mostly French, but on some Americanized things like hamburger... It's just a burger. A burger classique. The description used "bacon" in English. So, you know, it's great when you order it in French and the waitress says to you in English, "You know it has bacon on it." Picture Loosey wanting to slam her head into the table. Yes, I get it. You're bilingual. It's hot. You read English better than I do. You look way better in that dress, and your boobs are anti-gravity. Thanks for the reminder that I'm old and stupid. I knew that coming in.

Then, as usual, Sully set in on a discussion that made me smile, frown, laugh, sigh, look away and blush.

Afterwards, he walked me around the corner back to my hotel before he headed to work. I went upstairs and sat in the window of my room (which I was happy opened) and people watched from above. There on a bench in front of a fountain in Square Victoria was a couple, late thirties, totally feeding each other a sandwich, laughing and making out. Ahhh, Montreal. Women walked by in hot shoes. A high school group came by with kids laughing and holding hands. Happy people on a spring day. It was perfect.

Tomorrow, Ms. Mouse is picking me up for breakfast. Then she's dropping me off. I think I'll head up to the Baie and do some shopping before she comes back to whisk me off to her place for dinner. Then I go to sleep and wake up early, early to get in a cab and go to the airport.

MacTroll's update on Riley is that the ultrasound was sent to the radiologist. All autoimmune issues were ruled out. But the vets thought the spleen looked troublesome on the ultrasound, but they're not saying anything for sure before the radiologist sees the film. MacTroll said that Riley is walking very slowly. He's not steady on his feet. If it is a tumor in his spleen, which is a pretty aggressive place to have cancer, he's in trouble. Even with spleen removal and chemo, dogs don't usually live too long after that kind of treatment. The tumors are most always malignant, and they can spread to the brain, which could be why he appears to have neurological issues.

But again, this is all speculation. We'll know more tomorrow. If he does have cancer or doesn't but isn't showing any signs of improvement in the mobility area, we'll be canceling our trip to Atlanta. He'll need more care, and we want to be around for it. He's given us so much over the last 10 years, it's the very least we can do for him.

But first, I'm going to take a long bubble bath, tuck myself into my zillion-count W hotel sheets and pass out. Maybe I'll even crack one of the 1/2 bottles of wine. Hey, is Roy Dupuis on the TV? Cause I could totally snuggle into the faux fur blanket on my my chaise lounge for 4 and get into that. What do you think, LL?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

From 900 miles away...

Our dog Riley has had some lethargy issues lately. He had one episode when I tried to let him out at 10:30 p.m. before I went to bed two weeks ago. He had trouble going down the stairs. Then he spent the night on his favorite chair. I thought because I woke him up that maybe he was just really tired and not focused. In the morning, he was fine. He ate his breakfast went outside and everything was good. We took a walk later, no worries. Happy dog.

Then last week, the same thing happened when MacTroll and I came home from somewhere and he'd been sleeping. It was weird and I brought up the late night thing again with MacTroll. We kept an eye on him and by the afternoon Riley was again just fine. 

Well, this morning MacTroll got up and Riley couldn't make it down the stairs. MacTroll ended up carrying him. He took X-man to school and drove Riley directly to Dr. Mary Welle. Our dog is still there. They're ruling out one thing after another. He's spending the night at the emergency vet's and going in for an ultrasound tomorrow. 

So far the tests show that Riley is anemic. He has a low platelet count (doesn't this sound familiar?) and his blood isn't clotting the way it should. He's still not eating, which is different than the other two events. So they're syringe feeding our baby. And I'm 900 miles away. And MacTroll is all by himself. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crazy Privilege

Today, I was sitting at Sunsinger with MacTroll. We decided to treat ourselves to lunch before I take off for three days in Montreal. There was a table next to me of women who all had older children. Children in high school. They were gabbing away about private education and costs and how excited they were over their children's PSAT, ACT and SAT scores.

They were saying things about how everyone sent their children to places like Next Generation because they were hoping that they'd have a higher chance of getting into Uni High. Words like, "Well, when you have the money that's how you should spend it" were spoken. Then they discussed gifted programs and extracurriculars, and I had to stop listening or I was going to go insane.

Then I went into the bakery next door. There was a business meeting taking place in the corner. It looked like a local plastic surgeon was interviewing someone to perhaps do some marketing for him. And he said, that the potential employee didn't have to have the services he offered, but she at least had to believe in them in order to sell them successfully. "Personal improvement" was the whole focus.

I've decided to make "Personal Improvement" my theme, not in regard to cosmetic surgery, but in terms of having more intention in my life. In reality, I've been pretty rough and tumble with myself lately. I've been beating myself up for a lot of stuff. I figured that the reason I was unhappy was because I was somehow broken. This afternoon, I don't know what it was, but I left work with this feeling like I could finally cut myself some slack. I never used to be so uptight. I used to be pretty laid back. What was the difference?

I talked about it a little with the nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood when I got my IUD rechecked. I am kind of caught between a series of physiological issues and psychological issues and finding a balance between them has been -- awkward at best and frightening at worst. But the really big issue is that I'm lonely. I show up, but I don't seem to connect. Not the way I should. And I've pretty much killed off any of the connections I did have. People just floated away when I stopped being the tether. I feel socially awkward. I can't seem to organize my thoughts enough to get the words to formulate into cohesive, meaningful prose, so I don't say anything at all.

I must be frustrated about it, because six weeks ago my blood pressure was 90/60 at Planned Parenthood. Today it was 120/60. I haven't registered a BP at 120 or higher since I was almost 10 months pregnant and in some crappy consistent pain. And yes, my foot did hurt today after working for four hours on it, but I don't know if it was bad enough to elevate my pressure that much.

Tomorrow morning I'll be on a plane to Montreal. I've been walking around the last two weeks horribly uncomfortable with what's going on in my body and in my head. Here's hoping that I'm able to find a way to pull all those pieces back together, to have more patience and to transform into the loving, actively involved friendly woman that I know I want to be by the time I return.

Perspective is always a good thing.

Monday, May 16, 2011


So, when my physical therapist said it would be okay to run a 5k... he meant in the context of our conversation where I said, "I should be okay to run the 5k at the end of my mini-triathlon in June, if everything goes well in therapy, right?"


And I interpreted this as, "Go out and run a 5k this weekend."

I tried to stress that after a half marathon, a 5k seemed like a short training run. He gave me a stop whining, and I know you're smarter than that look.

Halfway through our session today, I said. "So besides the icing and the stretching and the massage and the splint there's not much else I can do?"


"This sucks."


"I hate patience."

"Well, you're going to need it."

But the visits are a lot more humane than when I hurt my back.

Poor me. I have a warm end of a flat round thing that sends soundwaves into my foot massaged over the injured fascia before having a 15-20 minute foot massage, where I ooh and ahh, and things in my foot crunch around until they work themselves out like dominoes falling. Then there's the stretching. And then I get iced. It's really quite a lovely 45 minutes -- right now.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Food Allergy Info

Friday night I attended a 40-minute session on Children and Food Allergies in school. The session was focused on what educators need to know.

The speaker was Christine Szychlinski, who manages the Food Allergy Program at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She defined allergy as different from sensitivities or intolerances in that an allergy can kill someone, not just make them sick.

She also explained that there is no predictive testing available to tell someone what they will become allergic to. Skin testing has a 50 percent false positive rating. Blood-based testing can provide a 95 percent confident diagnosis but it's only available with milk, eggs, peanut and walnut allergies.

The biggest issues in schools are when there is a change in the routine of a normal school schedule. Field trips are often when children with allergies have issues. For some reason they think they can be less careful. She mentioned one study that a telephone survey of 132 children indicated that 58 percent of kids had a food allergy reaction in the last two years, 18 percent of those were in the school setting (Sicherer S JACI 2003). The largest issues in the classroom are due to cross-contamination and mislabeled or unlabeled foods (like when outside vendors offer foods to a class on a field trip).

As a teacher, I worry about food allergies a lot. I was worried that I didn't know enough on how to prevent cross contamination, because in a pre-school setting we provide snack, but also some of our exploration is or can be done with food. Szychlinski said she believes that no school really can ever be peanut-free. Not only does she think it's not a reasonable expectation, but it's also not what children will find out in the real world. If a parent demands a peanut-free school, ask them if they take their child to the shopping mall or to Target -- because no one sweeps in those places for peanuts, ever. What she did believe in was that no school should have food used in any part of their curriculum and that all food should be relegated to the cafeteria ONLY. That means, exploration with kids and cooking is out the window unless it's done in a school cafeteria or kitchen. But this is nearly impossible in most early education classrooms as most centers don't have a cafeteria. It's also difficult on some schools who have cafeterias that double as gyms (because the contaminates are always there and then gym class is indeed a dangerous place).

The big issue about curriculum is that classrooms should be safe environments where children learn freely. By keeping food entirely in the cafeteria, it allows the classroom to be a safe environment. It can also lessen the possibility of children with allergies feeling isolated or stigmatized by their allergies. In a larger setting, like the cafeteria, everyone is eating everything differently. No one notices if little Mackenzie never has a peanut butter sandwich. It can also lessen the possibility of bullying by classmates.

You may not think that's a big issue, but it is. In fact, children with food allergies are reportedly at a much higher risk of eating and anxiety disorders, and they often have a much higher rate of depression. She also supported the idea that the child has a "safety person" to go to in a school environment, if she is feeling anxious, is being bullied or is worried about an exposure, so that the child knows that this person will be able to set aside time to help her in privacy rather than in front of everyone else in the classroom.

Food allergies cannot be controlled by things like Benedryl. An epi pen must be used and after using it you must call 911. And when a child has been exposed to what they're allergic to, you want to do that as quickly as possible. Don't put it off. If a child has allergies and asthma and his or her breath starts to slow and become labored after eating, don't reach for the inhaler first, reach for the epipen. The inhaler won't save her life. The epipen will. Get over the fear of calling 9-1-1. It's better to call them and not need them than to not call and really need them.

In terms of preventing cross contamination, I learned that schools should never replace regular hand washing with using anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. It won't remove things like peanut butter from a child's hand. So if you have a child in class with an allergy, and a friend comes to school and only uses sanitizer and then touches something in the classroom that the child with allergy picks up -- you have cross contamination. Or maybe they do something as sweet as hug each other good morning or hold hands on the way to the playground...

However, using infant wipes, liquid or bar soap will all get rid of allergens on hands. Similarly when you wipe tables and chairs, cleaning sprays are perfect for getting rid of germs, but for some reason dish detergent does leave some allergens behind.

It is important for teachers and social workers to teach children of any age that if they think they've come in contact with something they're allergic to to stretch out their hands away from their body. A lot of children get upset when they figure out they've eaten something that could make them sick and tend to cry and rub their eyes or put their hands on their faces, which can make it worse.  It's also helpful that if they're too scared to talk (like while you're waiting for the ambulance and a parent) to try and get them to sing. Some children find this easier and comforting. It's also important that during this time HELP COMES TO THE CHILD, the child does not go for help.

As an educator, the highest risk for cross contamination at school usually revolves around things like the drinking fountain. It's impossible to clean it enough.

Another helpful part of the session came regarding reading labels. I love how most things now have words like, "Contains: milk, egg and soy" on the nutrition label to make it easier to find dangerous ingredients. This is not required by law. There is no standard. However, I always wondered, when my own son's school went peanut-free three years ago what the possibility of contamination was with things labeled, "May contain eggs" or "Processed in a facility with wheat." Turns out that testing showed that on average, 10 percent of the foods labeled "May contain" or "Processed in a facility" had those other allergens on them. And seven percent of the foods had enough allergens that it would cause an adverse reaction in a child.

In addition, you have to understand what you're reading on the ingredient label. Whey is a milk... If a child has an allergy to tree nuts you need to understand what that means and have a list available to teachers. Restaurants are NOT covered in the labeling law. You can call and ask if items are gluten free and a manager might tell you they are, but he's not required by law to do so.

Mistakes happen all the time. The speaker brought up a story about how a mother who sent her child to school every day with a salami sandwich, but this particular day she accidentally grabbed the lowfat version of her brand and didn't notice. Turns out it had milk in it (why salami had dairy in it is a whole different stupid food issue) and her child had a reaction to the sandwich he ate every day. The cafeteria supervisor was able to call the nurse who brought the epi pen and dialed 911. They treated the symptoms as they saw them and the boy was fine.

As a teacher/school employee, it's important to double check the expiration on all of your students' epi pens and make sure that parents keep them current. It's also important that teachers and administrators know where those pens are (especially when substitutes come in). It's important to have an epi pen drill the same way you have fire drills, where someone in the school walks up to a teacher and says, "Bobby is allergic to peanuts his face is swelling." The timer starts and the teacher has 5 to 7 minutes to get the epipen, use it (or assist/watch the student use it if he/she is old enough to self administor) and dial 9-1-1. If you can't do that in 5-7 minutes, you need to train and retrain. School staff should retrain on how to use epis when they do their CPR/First Aid certification every two years.

I have a lot of children in my life with severe food allergies. I love them dearly and I'm more prone to excluding food from the classroom and making sure that all of my students are eating snacks that the child with allergies can eat (in order to avoid the idea of isolation, special treatment or difference). But I have to admit, I look forward to using food in the classroom as a way to let my students explore. I do know that whatever activity I might use it must be safe for everyone in the classroom. But I do appreciate the reason and concept between the no food in the curriculum rule. I also know that even though my child's pre-school is peanut-free... that most parents don't follow that rule. This year, X-man has often had chocolate candies and such in his eggs at egg hunts or given as Valentine's. In years past, the teachers would check the candy before we brought it in and always check the food labels.

And I do support the idea that no unlabeled food should ever enter the classroom -- that is, no home baked snacks. I'm going to go with the DCFS rules on this one. But I do wish that was the rule at big kid schools, too. I know people like to bake, and as a teacher, I love to eat what you bake, but really, I so don't want to administer an epi pen because a parent forgot she used eggs in a recipe and Jayne ate some and is now on the way to the emergency room scared to death while her parents race across town to meet her ambulance there. That's not a happy birthday for any one.

The surprising statistic of the day--10 years ago, children who were lucky to outgrow their food allergies did so by the time they were five. Now, a majority of children who somehow outgrow their allergies do it by the time they're 18. Know one knows why the instances of food allergies are increasing or how. There are no cures for food allergies.

The only way to prevent negative events is through AVOIDANCE.

And I'm all about avoidance when it comes to something that can kill.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday in the Park -- when it was 50 degrees

Today, MacTroll and I did the Twincity Twosome at Crystal Lake Park. This marks the first 5k MacTroll has run in a decade. He was nervous, and he was male about it. He started yammering as soon as he woke up. Words like: "What if I beat you?" "What if we take first place in our age division?" "Mmm, maybe I should have carb loaded last night..." came out of his mouth (I reminded him that he had garlic veggie ravioli as his carbs.  :-) But I know he was looking for pizza...

Anyway, the twosome works by teammate 1 running his 5k and handing a large popsicle stick baton to runner two to do her 5k. It works for us because the transition is right next to a playground. Sure, it was kind of wet and soggy after all the rain last night, but X-man didn't seem to care.

My body, however, did. I don't usually run when it's wet and cold. I also don't usually run when it's over 80 degrees. And although, I wouldn't really call 50 degrees cold, it felt cold after waiting around for MacTroll this a.m.

I think he understood at line up, however, that all of his worries about competition were out the window when the pace group signs started at 18 and ended at 28 minutes. "There was no 34!" he said later. I smiled and then told him about how when I lined up for the half the last pace group was 3 hours and under... and then a big yellow piece of tape with a sign over it that said "Walkers."

He was concerned that he was losing his amateur runner status. I explained that he was entering a recreational runner status... but he was leaving behind his non-athlete status.

Anyway, by the time MacTroll got to me, my teeth were chattering. I hugged him, kissed him, and took off. I was so proud of him for all of his hard work. I ran the whole 5k without any problems, but I wasn't fast, and, of course, even though my foot was a tad sore at the beginning, by mile 1.5 it felt pretty okay, but when I was done -- it was angry with me. I stretched pretty well when I got home, but it's pissed.

So several times today I put a tennis ball under it to stretch it out. I rolled a frozen water bottle under it. I elevated it. I massaged it. It's sitting in my overnight splint right now.

Let's hope it's back to normal tomorrow. My third PT appointment is on Monday afternoon. I get to tell him that my short run didn't do so well in the long run, but it was feeling oh so better after the last two appointments.

When I finished, MacTroll was worried because my lips were blue. I felt like I couldn't really get a good breath the entire race (I guess that's what happens when you don't run in two weeks). But my hands were stiff, too. I made the guy at the end tear off my bib thing because I didn't have the dexterity.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Food Revenge

I was going to blog about the Carle Food Allergy seminar I went to for educators tonight, but that can wait. Due to Blogger being down yesterday (horrors of horrors!) I didn't get to update.

Last week I left weight management angry for a bunch of different reasons. This week, I left weight management in tears. They weren't mean to me or anything. No one cracked a ruler across my knuckles or gave me a stern look. This was all me and my emotions.

You see, when I feel self-pity that I can't eat the way other people eat, I rebel. Know how I rebel? I consume foods that haven't been in my regular diet. I do it for a number of reasons but none of them is hunger-based. Do you see how this is a problem?

I also have emotional reasons to overeat. I have always been this way. I get sad -- I go for ice cream. I get happy -- I go for ice cream. I am bored -- I go for ice cream. I'm lonely -- I go for ice cream. It's a crutch. Other people have things like pizza or cake or liquor. I have ice cream.

When I get the urge to go down to Marble Slab, belly up to the bar and order myself a Banana Traveler on a white chocolate sprinkle cone, I try to subside it with something else. Usually, it's 35 calorie whole wheat slice of bread with a tablespoon of Brummel and Brown and a 1/2 tablespoon of honey. For a normal urge -- one does it. For a hormonal, pre-period meltdown it might take five pieces of bread. I've been tracking this urge for a while, and like clockwork it happens the day before, the day of and the day after my period and then it goes away. I don't feel guilty about it -- but the urge to consume feels uncontrollable and leaves me in a bit of a panic. At any other time, I just shrug my shoulders at food. I can walk into Cocomero and fill my cup full of fruit and completely ignore the frozen yogurt.

But my brain is telling me it wants what it wants and it's stomping its foot like a three-year-old child having a tantrum. On those weeks, I gain weight at weigh in. It happens. Normally, I spend the next three weeks working that gain off (it's 2-3 lbs). Usually I can run. Usually I can go to a boot camp class. Usually I'm not randomly sad about something I can't put my finger on.

Tomorrow is the first day I'm allowed to try some moderate activity on my plantar fascia after spending some time with the physical therapist this week. In the two weeks I've been off of it, I've gained 7 lbs. I keep eating like I'm running 25 miles a week, but I'm not. And I'm disappointed, but at the same time, I feel hungry a lot. Usually in the evenings. And I often wonder if this relates to the hormones in the IUD. (I have my six-week follow up appointment on Tuesday, so I can ask.)

I've also been working more the last two weeks, and the days have been overscheduled to the point of exhaustion, where I find myself eating bowls of fruit just to stay awake until I put X-man to bed. Yes, I know, it's fruit... but imagine eating one of those 32 oz packs of strawberries, by yourself, in two days. It's kind of crazy. And that's not the only fruit and vegetables I've been eating. Yesterday, I consumed 14 servings of fruits and veggies, today I'm at 10. Used to be I came in at a solid 5-7.

I keep looking at the paperwork they gave me to get my bloodwork done with in July after my IUD will have had 3 months to get settled. But part of me wants to go get it done now. I'm curious if my ferritin has gotten lower and the lack of energy is driving me to eat through the insane brain chemistry signals. I am, however, proud that I've been picking good choices to chew on rather than just buying a 1/2 gallon of moose track ice cream and a Papa Del's Super Stuffed Garlic and Spinach pizza every night and letting it take over. But I am so tired of battling my body chemistry. And I'm quite sure that whomever reads my blog is tired of me whining about it. (My sincerest apologies.)

But one of these days I'm afraid I'm going to get knocked on my ass, and I'm just going to stay down and close my eyes to the fight. It's a scary feeling. I'm afraid of what's happening to my body. It just doesn't feel right.

On the same note, I am leaving for Montreal next Wednesday. It's time for Loosey's annual sleep-a-thon. I'll be staying at the W again. It's been awhile (2008). So, I'm hoping I get their fabulous chaise lounge... That thing was awesome to nap on. Mostly, I think I'm just going to check in and collapse. Hopefully, I'll come back revived and ready to take over my life again...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How much work is it to compost?

About two years ago, I started eyeing some giant fancy composting bin in Gardener's Supply Catalog. I never purchased it because it came, even on sale, with a large price tag.

Last week I went over to my friend Ms. Awesome's house to check out her set up. Her family of four uses some upcycled tumblers in their yard. There are two bins that are fairly large that they put all their scraps into. Ms. Awesome went over the rules (no bones, no pits, no weeds, etc.). Then she showed me how it tumbled and vented and talked about how it took a few months to get compost from them. It was a large system, and I know that if we had trees that had leaves or if we had a few more people at the house besides X-man and me (MacTroll doesn't really eat a lot of fruits or vegetables on his own) it would be a good system. Of course, I might need to improve my upper body strength because by the time one of those suckers got half full, I'd get a work out trying to tumble it. It was nice that the tumblers were sealed tight against possible pests, though.

Then I went over to Ms. Amazing's house where Mr. Amazing showed me his red worm compost set up. He started about 4 months ago and has proven to be really successful at it. His worm casings (i.e. compost) were beautiful. But holy cow, they're like pets. In order to get some really sublime compost, you have to grind down a lot of what you give to them. There's a temperature control situation, standards for venting the worms so they stay happy, which means you would need to keep the worms in the house (likely the storage room in our basement). There's also a mite issue that you have to look out for. And again, there are rules. No meat. No dairy. No citrus. Dry your egg shells...

I can't have a heap in my yard because we finally got our winter mouse issue under control because we back into a cornfield and an open field and a park area, and I really don't want to attract more rodents.

Rogers has been attempting to compost now for four years. She has a neat-o-keen large bin in the back from Lowe's, but she said she couldn't make it work. Things just kept rotting, which was a total flag for me, because there's a reality to how much effort I'm willing to put into the job. I also have to admit that MacTroll was not thrilled with the idea of housing worms in the basement. He'd be okay with the garage, but our garage isn't heated.

I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs and realizing that maybe I need more of an apartment dweller's solution, since I'd only be composting the food of 1 adult and one child. They have some pretty fancy machines out there these days. I remember B.Lime downtown advertising the Naturemill machine on the local news some months ago. But again, it's pretty expensive (although uses very little electricity). So, back to the books I go...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Emerging Literacy and Attitude

X-man came home a couple of weeks ago with his monthly pre-school newsletter. In it, the newsletter said that the majority of the kids in his classroom were reading Max the Cat books.

I asked X-man if he had started to read them yet. He broke into tears and said that he was too stupid to read Max the Cat. I tried not to make a face to reveal what I was thinking. It was hard. I know certain things about my kid -- like he pushes the "I can't" tears too easy and about everything from putting on his shoes (which he wouldn't let me help him with when he was two, but now whines about needing help at five) and the fact that if he's not interested he claims to be stupid. But I also know that he's very observant. And he feels like he's the only 5 year old in the room NOT reading Max the Cat. And therefore, he must not be as smart as the other kids in the room. I know that feeling. It's a terrible feeling.

I felt bad that he was having a crisis of confidence over something that he has no control over. Reading is a lot like potty training. It's a concept, but really until the mental switch flips in the child's head, you can't stuff it down their throats. You just have to attempt, wait, support and repeat. But most of all, you have to make it fun and do it when the child is interested.

So, I busted out all the early readers I've purchased over the last few months, and I scoured the library shelves in Tolono and I requested some materials from all over Central Illinois that I thought he'd enjoy. And every night before I read him his two picture books and a chapter from a chapter book, he attempts to read one of the phonics readers. He likes them because we go over the two new words each night and every page repeats the words over and over on each page. For example, "We will fly to the moon." "We will fly to the stars." The last page is always a little tricky, but he gets that when he learns a few sight words he can apply them to the other books.

But today a Max the Cat book finally came from one of the other library systems. I took it upstairs tonight and showed it to him. He read the title by himself, looked at me and said, "I like our books better." Then he tossed Max the Cat on his toy box, picked up a Kipper book and a Dick and Jane book and I picked out the book for him to read me and we sat down and did our evening reading.

In essence, my child totally gave Max the Cat the finger. And I'd be lying if I didn't say I was really pretty proud of him.

So much so that I read him the Kipper Rocket book twice...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Double Damn!

So, I sucked it up and went into the free injury evaluation at Carle today. It's a pretty quick way to get diagnosed and yessireee, I have plantar fasciitis. The guy started going over what to do, which is all the things I have been doing. I am allowed to swim and cycle, but I shouldn't do long runs for a while and shouldn't always be on my feet. He did appreciate the fact that as a pre-school teacher, that's impossible. It's kind of like telling a waitress or a nurse or -- a runner -- to sit down.

Then he said I really needed a lot of deep tissue massage.

For .01 seconds I thought of myself naked lying down under the care of my favorite massage therapist Ms. Lorree Harty at Erickson Chiropractic Clinic all calm and cool and pain free. Yeah, I know better. This is when I go to physical therapy or Bodyworks Associates at the ARC and let them beat on my feet and my calves until I'm clenching the table in agonizing pain. I know there's usually a giant release of badness and then better mobility later, but holy shit, it makes rolling your injured, overused IT bands on a foam roller feel like snuggling puppies in comparison.

But the guy who diagnosed me this a.m. at the sports clinic... he didn't really say that. He said, "PT would be good. But you could also put a metal spoon in the freezer and then take it out and really grind it into your foot. -- It's gonna hurt though -- at least if you're doing it right."

Grind? Self-abuse in the name of medicine. Fabulous. Love it. So thrilled.

And, of course, although Carle is in-network for most items with my insurance, it's not for PT. But the sports guy wasn't an MD so he couldn't make the referral, so I had to call my primary to send me back to Eric and Rebekah at Athletico. I'm waiting for my favorite nurse Jo (Happy Nurse's Day!) to send the referral over so I can set up an appointment. Since I already told Rebekah about my heel randomly hurting at their information table at the half marathon, she wasn't surprised when I called and gave her the heads up at 7:45 a.m. (The poor thing had an info table between Great Harvest and Biaggi's. I would have just sat there and stuffed my face the whole time if I was her. But then again, pretty much a bear waking up after six months of hibernation has more food control than I have.)

So there you have it. Dr. Google was right, and I've been doing all the stretching and icing and resting  I can while still maintaining my lifestyle. It was nice though that he didn't use the word -- orthotics. I know they're coming, probably for all three of us in this house, but until someone in the medical profession utters the words "go get them now" rather than "you'll probably need them." I'm not calling the podiatrist. Ever since they charged me $165 to wrap my foot in 2008 and $185 for a 10-minute appointment, I've totally been against going back. Seriously, I could have found a trainer at a wellness clinic somewhere that could have done that for nothing. And it didn't help. What did help? Losing the body weight of a large golden retriever from my body. Go figure.

I'm still scheduled to do the Twin City Twosome on May 14th with MacTroll. If worse comes to worse, I could walk it. But I don't want to, but somewhere in my head I know that's the smarter thing to do.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Silent "Oh."

So, I'm waist deep in food research these days. And one thing has been becoming clear, there is a high price to pay for low-cost food.

The argument kind of goes something like this:

Most of the food Americans normally consume has no real nutrient value, poisons the earth, is filled with fillers and chemicals and requires us to abuse and use millions of animals a year. We subsidize farms for the filler (soy, corn and wheat) in order to put those products into everything. We jack up the farmer because most farmers have to purchase their seed through giant GMO Monsanto, which is knocking out other non-GMO food options, and making it not feasible to farm any other types of seed. The subsidies keep the price of the "filler" food at really low prices. The "filler" food leads to all kinds of health problems which costs the country millions in health care bills because it's calorically dense food with very little, if any, nutrients.

The other side goes like this:

There's enough food product to feed people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford the "real" cost of non-filler food if the system was altered. In other words, more and more people would go hungry. There are seven billion people in the world and many of them are starving already.

Insert my silent "Oh." Here.

Well, crap. It's a total damned if you do and damned if you don't. Perhaps the reason other countries are so skinny is because they can't afford food and don't have the same subsidies that support "filler-food"? MacTroll liked to point out after we finished watching the first half of Food, Inc. that neither  Michael Pollan nor Eric Schlosser are vegetarians. They are instead what I've seen been referred to as "Selective Omnivores." People who eat meat that is only grown by animal-friendly farmers who produce meat that is organic. Because of the price of meat raised responsibly is so expensive (for an example a pound of Meijer bacon is $3.18 where as a pound of Triple S bacon at the Common Ground Coop is $8.25), it makes sense that having a primary plant-based diet with a few meat meals cuts out the incredible expense.

But it's not just the idea of a pig roaming free that makes it cost that much. It's the idea that factory farms soak your food in things like chlorine in a giant attempt to kill the billions of bacteria each animal picks up from living in close quarters standing up to their knees in their own and others' feces, which is on the meat that's been slaughtered, packaged and taken to your store in small, easily accessible, non-identifiable food packaging with a pretty farm label on it.

Food for thought: The next time you buy ground beef, one package could contain bits of who knows what from over 40,000 different cows. If there's something wrong with one cow, the whole industry goes bad -- or they just don't tell you and cross their fingers that no one else gets sick. But they have. People have died. Little kids have died. The movie interviews a mother of a two year old boy who died after eating a Jack in the Box hamburger.

So as we continually have recalls in meat, it makes sense why hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef are disposed of. They really can't determine where it came from except for the fact that all of the country's meat slaughters only go through a handful of slaughterhouses.

It's totally creepy.

Food, Inc., was fine to watch. It gave me lots of different views of the organic food industry (some better than others). It also interviewed Pollan and Schlosser about the realities of American eating (Schlosser's favorite food is hamburger and french fries). But it also gives an open door to the idea of selective ominivores everywhere, where as Eating Animals comes out and says if you eat meat -- you can't call yourself an environmentalist -- period.

On the other hand, this month's Vegetarian Times Magazine has a 28-day boot camp to vegetarianism. I plan on using it as a trial in June. I'll do a month of vegetarianism, take a break and try a month of "near veganism." (Still love that term from the book "Becoming Vegetarian.")

Until then, pity my "I'm an omnivore because I like vegetables wrapped in bacon" husband as I introduce him to food he'd rather not digest, but will, because he loves me and knows in his brain it's better for him and that he is at least able to get in the car and take X-man out for Pepperoni Pizza any time he wants. :-)

And please take note that I do not advocate for any eating plan. You eat what you want to eat. I'll eat what I want to eat. We'll leave each other to our happy bodies and bellies. Mine might run well on Cocomero. Yours might run better on carrot jalapeno soup. It's fine. Please don't think I'm self-righteous, because I'm totally not. I ate HMR bean and beef burritos with non-organic avocado and organic corn kernels today for lunch. Sure, I gave up my 100-calorie popcorn to air pop my own and avoid the transfats, but seriously, I also tried some vegan jerky that I just couldn't quite put my finger on. Did I like it? Well, I wouldn't choose to eat it as a snack. But that didn't stop me from consuming the little package from the Coop. Five little pieces and 100 calories later, I still couldn't understand what I was eating, or make a determination if I actually liked it or not.

What does it mean when you say, "I don't like it. But I'd eat it."

And then I realized, that's probably why big corporations started using neuroscience and trans fats to create more and more food products to begin with. Because some clueless person like me put an eggplant in her mouth and said, "I don't like it, but I'll eat it." And bing -- scientific lightbulb went off... and boom -- now we have Wal-mart.

But It's New!

MacTroll and I had a subdued date night last night. I just couldn't get up the drive to go see Thor, so we decided we'd try Destihl, the new restaurant downtown. We walked in at 5:45 p.m. and the three women at the hostess desk looked at us like they were in trouble.

I indicated that we had two, and they looked down at their table board and replied, "I think we still have a couple of seats back in this area" to one another. It was strange, because to the right the tables were half empty. I figured they must have had a lot of reservations coming in at 6. Instead, we were taken into a very crowded bar area to the left where a large party of 20 had numerous tall tables pushed together. There was still plenty of actual seating at the bar, but we got a table for four in the back corner overlooking "the giant hole where that building used to be downtown."

I had looked at the menu before I left, so I knew there wasn't too much that I could eat. MacTroll ordered one of their beers, the large baked pretzel appetizer and then a pizza. I ordered a $4.95 strawberry and goat cheese salad minus the candied cashews with the dressing on the side. I knew for $4.95 the goat cheese was going to be minimal, and it was just three nickel-sized dabs.

Being that I eat spinach salad with fruit for one meal every day lately, I can't really tell you anything about the food. MacTroll was discouraged that the pretzels were obviously from a package and weren't baked by the restaurant. He was also discouraged by the two dipping sauces which sounded good on paper didn't really translate well in reality.

What I can tell you is that by 6:30 p.m. we noticed a family with an older child were totally eyeing our table because it was standing room only in the bar. Then, while we were waiting for our check a gentleman came over and asked if we could go and find him on the other side of the bar when we were ready to leave because he had a friend in a wheelchair that needed a lower table. I explained that I thought the family had been waiting a while and he'd need to go work it out with them... and seriously, dude, if you want a table in that crowd, get your ass over and stake one out like the family did. You have to do the work.

But as I'm signing the ticket, MacTroll is looking around the bar area shaking his head. "It was fine. But it's not that good. It's definitely not worth waiting in line for."

"But it's new!"

And Champaign doesn't get new downtown very often.

But there ya go. Nothing special. A brew pub. I think we prefer the Esquire.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Selling the Drama

I haven't run since last weekend because of my heel pain and it's totally flipping me out. I miss it. I know I've cycled at the gym and swam twice this week and done Tae Kwon Do pretty much every day, but at the same time, I'm depressed without my endorphins. I feel bloated and gawky. I'm constipated. And yet, I'm more tired than I am even on days when I used to do a long run.

It's hard to believe running could be so different than other forms of cardio, but it is for me. In addition, there's the mental damper that I SHOULDN'T do something, even though I probably could do it. I have to remember that just because you can, doesn't mean you should. So, tomorrow, I'll be heading back to the pool for another 60-minute swim sometime in the afternoon. Maybe the boys will want to come along.

I've got to get in as many meters as I can swimming before the Urbana Aquatic Center closes on May 22nd for it's annual cleaning. But I also need to take X-man and MacTroll in to get our summer pool passes on Tuesday afternoon. I might get in a few more lap swims after the Champaign Park District Pools open for the summer on the 27th. But we'll see. I just don't want to feel like a cat in water when it comes to the Sprint Triathlon I'm doing the first weekend in June. At the same time because of the rain, I've been clocking more time on the bike in the gym rather than my actual bike.

This week I need to go to the bike store and get fitted for a new helmet. I've decided that the one I have from Target circa 1998 is probably up for renewal. While I'm there I have to purchase a bike rack for the RAV-4.

In other news, I got re-certified in pediatric first aid and CPR today. Provena held a course down at the Tolono Library for $20, so I went with two of my colleagues. It was totally filled with babysitters, and I know that times have changed when a 7th grader said she was going to be looking after a 3 year old and I flinched. I know I watched after a 4 year old by myself when I was 12 and didn't think much of it. And I know most 3 year olds weren't as crazy as my kid, but I would never have felt like I was leaving him in a safe situation with a 12 year old. A mother's helper, no problem, maybe if it was a neighbor and I knew their mother was home I could go to the grocery store for an hour, but she just looked so small to me.

You know what this means, right?

I'm old.

But X-man and I did get our orange belts this morning.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pain in the foot

I've spent six days staying "off" my foot. What that means is that I haven't run since the half marathon, and I hate it, but at the same time, I know that I'm injured -- not from the half marathon, but from something that happened on Wednesday before the half marathon. I have no idea what, just that I went to sleep fine and woke up and stumbled across the floor like an old crippled woman. The only heel that hurts is my right one.

I have enough friends who've injured their fascia, so I started icing and stretching right away. The race was fine until mile 10, and then my foot started to hurt. The next day, I started RICE. I have still been swimming (it's fine then) and cycling at the gym (also fine). Tae Kwon Do is kind of half and half. But I only did 45 minutes on Monday and then 30 minutes tonight. I'll take my orange belt test on Saturday. On Monday morning I'll be heading over to the Carle free sport injury clinic. We'll see what is actually wrong then.

But walking a lot, standing and and running are pretty much out of the question right now.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My First Teacher Appreciation Week

X-man picked out orchids from the Bob the Builder store to take to his main teachers on Monday. When I asked him what he wanted to give his Spanish, Music and Art teachers, he sat down to think about it.

He decided that Ms. Mary, his beloved music teacher, needed a new drum and a scrumdiddleyumptious bar for teaching him all about Willy Wonka. Spanish and Art "are fun" but he thought they needed coffee for some reason, so I went with the Starbuck's gift cards. :-)

It didn't occur to me that this year, I might actually have had enough presence at MMO to warrant being considered a regular teacher. I have been there 2-3 mornings a week since September of 2009, but most of the kids forget where or how they know me. They just know I'm around. This is not an unusual case given that most of them had me when they're still in diapers.

But it was nice that on Tuesday when I went into work, one of the toddlers brought me a rose. And it was awesome to be at work on Wednesday for the MMO Teacher Appreciation Potluck.

Parents brought in brunch and then watched our classes so we could each go down and have 15 minutes of food, at a table -- with a table cloth and talk with our colleagues. It was really very special to have a little on-the-job break.

So, today after school X-man and I are picking up a drum from Ten Thousand Villages and then we're headed to Wal-mart for the Willy Wonka candy bar.

Tomorrow will be our last Teacher Appreciation Delivery... and then it's back to the norm.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rotarians at Work

Tonight, Quigs did a really awesome friend/neighbor thing and watched X-man for me so I could spend two hours volunteering with the Savoy Rotary Club at Salt and Light.

We filled pantry shelves and then we stuffed bags full of canned goods from the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. After that was done, we sorted and hung up clothing. It was my first time volunteering there and the first time I got to hang out with other rotarians, as we were kind of split up when we volunteered for Ready, Set Grow with United Way.

It was nice to be around grown ups, even though I didn't talk much, as I was concentrating on filling my bags with two cans of canned corn and passing it down our assembly line. They're a very nice group of people.

As it turns out Quigs gave glowing reviews of our children tonight. They've been friends since they were one, but they don't get a lot of play dates any more. Either way Bubba and PG have a permanent spot in X-man's heart because he's always thrilled to go over there. And he always whines at me that he doesn't spend enough time with them when he has to go home.

:-) And that to me is a definite sign of a good time. I know I cry when I have to leave Quigs' house.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It Wasn't a "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead!" Moment for Me

On 9/11, I worked at the Newseum, 1/2 mile from the Pentagon. I was standing at my desk wondering why I couldn't get my husband on the phone to tell him that I was ever so happy he wasn't a news photographer any more after watching the morning coverage of the two planes strike the towers in NY, when this large billowing smoke suddenly went up over the Pentagon. I hung up as my co-worker's daughter, who worked for Wolf Blitzer, got through to tell her the Pentagon got attacked. Then we all eerily went to the corner office and sat watching, waiting for a plane to hit the Capitol. Our VP came and dismissed us down 23 flights of stairs and out into the streets to find our ways home. I guess it was safer than being on the flight route into National Airport... My friend Jennie offered me a ride to her parents' house. It took us 4 hours to go 4 miles. And another five years before I didn't instantly cry and hide under a table every time I heard a fighter jet flyover anywhere.

For the 1-year anniversary, I worked for Arlington County who were the Pentagon Incident Command team. They were amazing officials. But watching fire fighters break down on camera during interviews that I arranged and having to step in to give them a moment... that officially ended my interest in public relations.

I don't know how I feel about Bin Laden's death. Tactically and politically I know it's a huge deal. But I felt no joy. I felt no justice. To all of the men and women who continue to do their duty in the armed forces, I am forever grateful for the sacrifices you and your family make on a daily basis. You are someone's son, daughter, father, mother, brother, lover. You are incredibly important to me and my family.

But in my brain, I don't know why we value American lives more than the lives of other people in other countries. This war isn't being fought in our faces. The real violence we saw on 9/11 was horrific. But the people in the middle east have it in their faces every moment of every day way more than the last 10 years because of the group Bin Laden organized and the violence they carry out. And yet, the focus in the news is on us. How we feel. It's just very confusing to me.

So I guess I always come back to my favorite episode of West Wing.

I guess I have something to think about on my swim today. Cause there's no way I'm running on this heel. If it's still sore next week when MacTroll gets home, I'll head into the free sports medicine clinic at Carle. But for right now, RICE sounds pretty good.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tuesday is Bike to Work Day

I work at MMO regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays. Because of some staff shortage, I've been filling in one extra day a week pretty much all of April. It's been fun, but on Tuesday, I'm going to probably take on a little to much and for this, anyone out in the reading area that has weather control within your realm of magical powers, could you please make it not rain on Tuesday morning?

Last year, the whole family pedaled from our house to Next Generation to drop X-man off at school o Bike to Work Day. This includes a "stop by" at a table where I get a t-shirt and some info on local biking and a snack for X-man. We normally bike to Next Gen at least once a day when the weather is nice, but the weather isn't usually nice enough to do it regularly until May. My hope is that this summer, we'll be biking everywhere on our bicycle built for two.

But I have to be at work on Tuesday by 8:15 a.m., which means X-man will need to be at Next Gen by 8 a.m. at the latest, so I can get to work on time. Thus our estimated departure time from the house is 7:30 a.m. -- the time when X-man is usually waking up.

Yes, I know. I'm a glutton for punishment.