Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No Recess

So tonight, during bedtime, X-man fessed up that he spent recess with his head down on a table in his classroom -- for making a series of bad choices. He earned three checks, he said, so he lost recess privilege. He said he wasn't alone, which doesn't make it any better.

Then he said, "I already have two checks for tomorrow."

I wondered how. "Did you misbehave while waiting for the bus?"

"Yes, but not too bad."

Sigh. Why can't he make good choices? What's a marvel is that he "forgets" what he did to get the checks.

MacTroll insists he was exactly this way. I never was. So I totally don't understand it. It makes me feel like a lousy parent.

Digging to China

Being at home alone has a couple of quirks to workout these days. Namely with Lily. She and I walk every day for around 30 minutes during my two hours of free time. Having her and X-man at the same time is a little difficult. If there were people at the dog park at 1 p.m., I'd take her there, but it's barren, so it seems silly to go. Instead we take little trips around the lake or around Prairie Fields subdivision.

Today, I used up the last of her wet dog food at breakfast and needed to pick up enough to last through the holiday weekend. So when I got home from work, I ate lunch and then I clipped her onto her leash and we walked up the road to Prairieland Feeds.  She loved it. There were toys, treats and 12 cans of dog food at the other end, what's not to love.

Then she went to sleep until X-man got home. Later while X-man was chilling out, she and I played fetch with her favorite Chuck E. Cheese ball. Then I let her outside to make dinner... and guess what she did?


Monday, August 29, 2011

I Scream, You Scream... We All Scream for -- Literacy

This summer, X-man started to learn how to read. He's got all the words used in pretty much every Dick and Jane book down pat. And they are a sea of sight words. It's all good, until I show him them out of the Dick and Jane context and then he's like, "I don't know."

Dude, watch. I highlight three words from the sight word list that his kindergarten teacher gave us at the Parent Teacher conference and put them in a sentence using Dick and Jane... He reads them. "Oooohhhh!" He says. "Why do they look different when they're by themselves?"

In a context he appears to be great. And really, it's lovely that he has reading comprehension, that is he can totally understand what he's reading and building. And sometimes, when he's tired, he substitutes synonyms for the words he's reading because he understands what's going on in a story.

In response, I went on the hunt for non-Dick and Jane books to insert in our evening reading. Some nights he's killer and other nights he's so tired, he just stares at the letter "a" in a sentence and repeats, "said" over and over again. I ask, "What's that letter?" He snaps to attention. "A." "Oooohhhhh."

Seriously, Dude, I think we need to read earlier in the day. "Noooooo!"

Anyway, each night X-man brings home a folder from his teacher. Tonight was a "sample" homework night. It really wasn't homework. It was a half sheet of paper where I had to have a conversation with X-man about what he enjoyed about school that day. Since we have that conversation over dinner or after-school snack pretty much every day, it was not out of the ordinary. But I did have to sign my initials that we did it and have him take it back tomorrow. We'll see what he brings home tomorrow for homework.

In addition, he's been getting a lot of reading based fliers lately. One is a reading incentive program through Fazoli's. If he reads 5 books on his own, we write down the titles and turn them into his teacher to sign off on and then she gives him his certificate to take into Fazoli's for a free kid's meal. The catch, of course, is that it has to be with purchase of an adult entree. But since he'd never go by himself, I guess that makes sense. And, as it turns out, Lightning McColin is a fan Fazoli's so we'll be making that dinner playdate soon. :-) Today, he got another coupon for another restaurant -- Texas Roadhouse. But this one, he only had to write down his favorite book and color a sheet and turn it in for his free meal with the purchase of an adult entree. We don't really eat at Texas Roadhouse. I think I had it once in Manassas, Va. But he thought maybe, since they had steaks his Dad could take him there for lunch next week when they have early dismissal on Sept. 9th.

I thought that was a pretty marvelous idea.

In addition to the coupon, we also got a reading log to fill out. I'm not sure if it's just supposed to be books that X-man reads or if it should include books I read to him. The form has "type of reading" so I've just devised "X-man reads to Mom" and "Mom reads to X-man." I figure MacTroll can write in his own name, but since he's not here this week, it works. :-) He gets the form on Mondays and we have to return it on Fridays. It lists all the items we read and when.

X-man also had his first trip to visit Ms. Cahill in the library today. He checked out a book that he looked over on the bus. When he got home, I asked him if he wanted me to read it to him. He said, "I think it's too scary from the pictures." And I have to agree, the illustrations are rather creepy, but I'll read the story tonight and see if he'll be okay. Instead, I handed him his new Lego Club Jr. magazine, and he and I read that and went through the puzzles. Then he insisted on filling out the survey about the redesign of the magazine and putting it in the mailbox, just in case he was one of the three children returning it that might win $50 to the Lego store. He's got his eye on some Ninjago sets...

I am scheduled to shelve books at the Carrie Busey school library from 1-dismissal on Mondays starting on Sept. 19th. I'll be in there when X-man's class has library time. I'm curious to see how that will go.

But I was also surprised when Ms. Cahill remembered my name from the Books by the Bushel event last year. It's where librarians and teachers give the Junior League a wish list of books they'd like for their school and people go into Barnes and Noble and purchase the books as donations and get to dedicate their purchases to people.

Tomorrow, I'll be at the Tolono Public Library twice. Once to drop off the book drop books, and once to take X-man to the "Paws to Read" program from 4-5 p.m. He's going to sit down with a dog and read the dog a book. I saved a Dick and Jane for this one, just so he doesn't get nervous. He also usually has me hold the book and move my finger to the words, so we'll have to see if he's ready to do it on his own.

As it turns out, in my own classroom nothing brought my students together more than a teacher sitting on the floor with a book in her hands. They all sat so nicely as Ms. Rachel and I shared stories with them. My favorite part of the day, though, was when we were reading the "You are Brave" book and we got to the part where it talks about how children are brave when they are able to hold insects gently and I busted out my plastic insect collection and handed the insects out. The kids all put them in the palms of their hands like the illustration showed and cooed at them as if they were babies. It was adorable. Then when I finished the book. I got them out magnifying glasses and they all sat around this little bin of bugs and examined all the different kinds.

At that point, of course, a parent showed up, and her child ran up to her beaming with two insects in his hands. It made me smile. Just wait until I can find them some real bugs. :-)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kings, Knights and Magicians

X-man was supposed to go to the Airshow in Charleston with MacTroll yesterday, but because he had a roll of awful behavior on Friday night he lost that privilege and spent yesterday pretty much in his room. When I came back from completing my 5k on Saturday morning, there was a letter of apology written to me on the dining room table. X-man had decided that his big kid paper didn't have enough space for everything he wanted to say, so he dictated his message to MacTroll and then MacTroll printed it out in a font that made the letters out of dots and X-man sat down and used a pencil to connect the letters and sentences.

So, when MacTroll woke up this a.m. and had issues getting off the pot, I snatched my boy up, threw him in the car and drove to Danville (which I'm sure makes SuperShanna proud). Why Danville?

Today was the second day of the Illinois Renaissance Fair. We showed up right in time for the starting ceremonies. The trick was that my child had no idea where he was going. It was a surprise. So when he pulled up and saw a knight on a horse he flipped out!

"Mom! Mom! Mom! It's a -- It's a -- What is that KNIGHT doing there?"

Then we got out of the car and ran over where a woman played a set of bag pipes and lead out the king and queen. "Are they really king and queen?"

I explained they were acting.

"Like a play? Do I get to dress up? I want to be a knight, too."

We went in and found a LOT of girls dressed up as princesses and maidens, but not a lot of complete boy dress up options. X-man skipped the wizard's hat, but what he did not miss out on was the bamboo bow and arrow set for kids. The arrow part is made of cloth and foam, so it doesn't hurt. He shot it a few times and then hung the bow around his shoulder "like Green Arrow."

Then he saw the area where they taught kids how to duel...Again with the foam swords and shields. Kids had to follow the rules of not hitting heads or groins (a word I had to explain). If you were struck in an arm, that meant you lost the arm and had to drop what was in your hand and put it behind your back. If you were struck in a leg, you had to kneel. Get two appendages cut off and you were dead. A strike in the back, chest, stomach or butt and you were dead... X-man spent an hour and fifteen minutes out of the three hours we were there either watching big kids duel or dueling himself. He had a great time dueling with a grandfather who we knew from Savoy.

It was a nice, quiet fair. It was very affordable and there was a lot of entertainment. There were about eight different stages that had something going on every 30 minutes. We watched some grown ups duel with real swords and learned about some of the dueling techniques. We watched a magic show. We saw two knights (including a female knight!) do a round of jousting. We ate a plain pretzel and shared a lemon shake up and went around finding folks with blue bows on their shirts who were carrying little prizes for the kids (pirate patches, rings, slide whistles, etc.). We listened to singers. Then, he took me to the stockade, where he gave a quarter to the woman and announced that his mom was buying 3 water balloons, but he didn't want me to throw them at the teenager for their fundraiser, he wanted me to throw them at him, because he was hot and wanted to get wet.

I soaked him using all three and then asked him if he wanted more. Because really, when does a mom get to pelt her son, who is imprisoned in the stocks, with water balloons any more?

X-man really liked the Fair, but he said he wished his Dad had come with, so they could have dueled as a team. We'll have to go back again next year. Maybe then we'll dress X-man up like a knight!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

There's More Than One Michelle in Chambana

It's a news flash, I know. But this morning I sought out my Green Flame Energy team tent at the Car-X Crazy K event, but no one was there. I knew I was the first to run, but the web site said to be there an hour and a half before the race. So, there I was with my bag sitting underneath our orange tent with green pom poms taped to it when a guy in the white tent next to ours said, "Are you part of Michelle's team?"

"Why yes," I answered.

"I wonder if she's going to be here because her grandmother in Florida was having trouble."

"She put on Facebook this morning that she'd see our team here."

"I hope that means her grandmother is better," the guy said.

We started chatting and then there were some things that dawned on me. None of these people were wearing the safety orange shirts nor did they have green hair. Hmmmm, Michelle's a pretty active person, maybe she had more than 10 people e-mail and want to be part of her team. Oh well, we chatted and chatted about these people from Watseka. And I kept looking over my shoulder for someone with a costume that matched mine. When I finally saw someone, I thanked them for hanging with me and then I went to meet Michelle and Prudence at our tent. I noticed Michelle didn't say hello to the other people. She didn't even look in their general direction.

"Weird," I thought.

And then it occurred to me. Two entirely different Michelles, and I'd just spent an hour hanging out with total strangers thinking they were the strangers I hadn't met on my team... What's worse is that I talked about living a few blocks from Michelle and teaching at her son's pre-school and going to the same gym, but no one corrected me. I was totally just this random crazy lady with green hair making small talk with a bunch of social workers.


The good news was that my foot held up. I did have to walk half of it, but that was mostly due to the fact that I haven't been running outside and the heat than it had anything to do with my foot. It was sore, but it wasn't killing me. My calves did protest though. Since most of the people were walking by mile 1.5 and they were dishing up HOT water at the water stations, there just wasn't any way to cool down. I was thirsty when I started, mostly because I'd spent 1.5 hours (their suggested arrival time) sitting in the shade under a tree and then another 30 minutes in the sun waiting to start.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Big Day

Tomorrow MMO opens for children and their parents to meet their teachers any time between 8:30 and noon. My co-teacher and I have spent the last three weeks getting ready for class. We have a class plan for next week, but failed to get planning done past that. But that's what e-mail is made for, right? A lot of our planning is actually dependent on the kids right now. The current project approach theme is: All About Us. So, um, we have to find out about them before we can make detailed plans.

On Monday, class starts. I've got the welcome/circle time all worked out. And there's going to be a lot of interviewing and picture taking, as well as plenty of time for the kids to get acquainted with the room. My students are all turning 3 between September and July of next year. So we don't get to go on field trips, but I'll be seeing how many folks I can have come to the classroom to make up for the fact that we can't travel.

I am so excited to meet all of my students and their parents!

By the way, if you're interested in checking out MMO, we're having an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 20th from 5-6 p.m. You can drop by and check us out. I'm in the clownfish room on the second floor in the middle of the hallway on the left.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Foot Doctor

I finally got a referral appointment to go see a podiatrist. The first one that was available during a "convenient" time was Oct. 6, so I guess that's when I'm going. :-) We'll see if I need orthotics or not. As it goes, I seem to be walking around fine (minus the first four minutes after I get up). And I'm great in the pool, on the bike and doing the Nike Training workouts. The elliptical also works (but is boring as all get out), but running outside and the treadmill tend to cause pain, so I'm avoiding.

In other news, I'm participating in a charity event this Saturday at the County Fairgrounds and Crystal Lake Park. It's one of those 5k romp in the mud things called CrazyK. I'm doing it as part of a team with a friend/neighbor of mine and 8 of her other friends. We'll have a team tent and bright orange shirts and green hairsprayed hair. I am happy in the fact that it's for charity, so I feel no need to go fast, just to have fun.

Because that's the point, right?

At the same time X-man and MacTroll are going to head down to Charleston/Mattoon to check out the airshow. And then Saturday is Parent Date Night at the Recreation Center. We were going to go see Harry Potter, finally, but the times don't work, so we'll have to check out something else.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm a Big Kid Now!

X-man started kindergarten today. He had trouble falling asleep the night before because he was so wound up about it. I ended up lying down with him to get him calmed down enough to fall asleep. I hadn't done that since he was 3.

This morning he was so amped and ready to go, he didn't want to eat breakfast. I made him eat his veggie sausage and a few bites of pancake. But because he didn't eat, we were leaving for school too early. So, we ran errands before school. We picked up the books from the two Tolono Public Library book drops in Savoy, then we dropped off the dry cleaning. Then we got to go to the drop off at school. We pulled up, and X-man unbuckled his seat belt, threw on his back pack and jumped out of the car. As we drove around, I peeked over at him standing near his teachers. He was just fine hanging out.

I went to work, and it was much easier to work on my classroom without having him underfoot. Then I ran a bunch of errands and came home to have 45 minutes to myself to get into dry clothes (Hooray that it finally rained) and wait for his bus. I heard it before I saw it. I waved at the driver and she stopped and out came my little man. He was smiling from ear to ear with a school bus with his name and stop pinned to his shirt, but since it was kind of raining we bypassed the hug. He walked with me, holding my hand,  under the umbrella up to the house, where he was greeted with a cookie from Sweet Indulgence. He told me he made a friend in his class who also rides his bus. It's a boy and he likes "banks." (Curious!) He said he gets off in Prairie Fields, so I'm hoping this means he has a bus buddy.

He said the only weird part of his day was the bus because there were a lot of older kids who were very loud. He didn't appreciate that very much. But he said he liked seeing his friends who were in other classrooms.

When I opened his lunch box, I found that he'd eaten almost half of a sandwich, most of the Veggie straws and the two Starbursts I'd put in there. He said he didn't like the carrot sticks, he only likes baby carrots and that he was excited that he got free chocolate milk (even though he had a juice pouch in his lunch).  I explained that the milk wasn't free. But I also loaded up his lunch money account the other day, so I figure--whatever. He was clearly thirsty because he drank both the milk carton and the Capri Sun. He said he needed help opening the milk, but he got the juice pouch okay.

He said he learned that when Ms. Dramado's hand goes up you have to be quiet and raise your hand, too. And that when the stop sign goes up, you have to stop what you're doing and pay attention to the directions. Maybe I need to get a stop sign on a stick and a "quiet, please" sign for at home.

He said he was happy to go back on Thursday, and he hopes that he'll have science and P.E. on that day, because those are the two things he really wants to do in school and he was sad that he didn't get to do them today. But he was glad that he "finally!" got to play in housekeeping. (He's only wanted access to that kitchen since we toured last winter.)

After snack, and a little TV, I took him to the Rec Zone at the Savoy Recreation Center. I don't know if it was the weather or if the program isn't very popular, but we were the only ones there. It's a drop in, which I like because there's no commitment. He ended up playing tennis racket baseball with his own personal staff member, while I went and worked out.

All in hall, it was a pretty quiet and productive day. I'd like to thank MacTroll for taking Lily to the dog park and running the sillies out of her this afternoon before he flew off to California. He also mowed the front weeds for me before it rained and scooped the cat boxes. That was very much appreciated.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wanted: Not-So-Evil Twin Who Can Teleport or... has a Tardis

I made a comment the other day on Facebook that everything in the world is somehow being planned for October. The truth is that I'm finding September to have similar issues. I have to choose where I'm going and when. The good news is that all of it, so far, is really good stuff.

In the same Facebook comment, I complained that I hadn't figured out teleportation yet. It was also funny that I was told just a few hours later by my husband, "You may have to let some things go."

I laughed... and then 10 minutes later he made a crack about cloning me. So, I think he might start to realize that if I let things go -- he's probably going to have to pick them up.

For example, this involvement thing. Now that I'm teaching, I have my own school items I need to get to. That means, if MacTroll's home, he's going to have to pick up the X-man things. September 20th is the first day of double booking. We have the MMO Open House at the same time as the Carrie Busey PTA meeting. I've already decided I won't be a member of PTA, but MacTroll said he'd be willing to go to the meetings and events when he was in town.

Another example is being a classroom helper or helping with after school clubs. I'm working for most of X-man's school day, and I'm holding the 2 hours I have between getting off work and him getting off the bus at 3 p.m. sacred. So, I basically said I could sign up and do snacks. They gave us a list of appropriate snacks in our packet (our school is a CATCH school), and well, you know me. I can do healthy just as good as I can do unhealthy.

Other than that, we had the kindergarten ice cream social tonight. X-man was very shy about meeting his teacher. But once he got in the classroom and sat on the carpet, he was a champ. He really liked Ms. Dramado's giant bins of blocks and her bin of Legos. We go back to see her tomorrow morning for a short conference and are taking all of X-man's school supplies and extra items to drop of, so his back pack will be empty except for his lunch on Tuesday for his first day.

P.S. If you answer my want ad and have a tardis, can you please bring David Tennant along?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Free ice cream... for a while

This afternoon the boys and I took part in a Road Rally Scavenger Hunt with the Rec Center. We were each given packets with rules to follow and mystery directions to follow. Then we piled in our cars and went out in the countryside hunting down addresses and information. There were puzzle sheets to complete and trivia questions to answer.

Winners weren't based on time, but on the number of answers we got right, and we misread a clue and I miswrote another one, so we ended up 5 points behind the winners in fourth place out of five cars. (Those that tied had to Rock/Paper/Scissors for their prize.)

But for fourth place we got an envelope with $5 gift card to X-man's favorite ice cream place, Marble Slab. Then on further discovery, we found three more coupons for free kid's size ice creams with one mix in and a coup on for a free drink and popcorn at the movies. I'm pretty sure that was more than what we paid to participate, and it made X-man's day. MacTroll ended up giving blood at the Marble Slab blood drive because he's the only one in our family that can do that these days. So his ice cream was free anyway.

With X-man, we're working a lot on not worrying about winning or losing, because right now he doesn't want to take part in things where it's not clear that he'll be a winner OR if not everyone gets something. He has a lot of anxiety about it. For example, he thinks he'd rather run in the Kids Fun Run for Orchard Days on Sept. 17 rather than participate in the Family Fitness 1.5k at his new school. Because he thinks the one at school will have winners and trophies, where as the one at Orchard Days is just a fun run with nothing special a the end.

We also started the day seeing Spy Kids 4 at the Savoy 16 theater for their Lights up, Sounds down showing. It was very nice. Very few people there, and the movie, like the other three Spy Kids films didn't spook my five year old. He's already asking for Spy Kids 5. :-)

Kindergarten starts on Tuesday. :-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Smells of Motherhood

"This is what parenting is: shit and food, shit and food. Mostly shit. Wiping shit. Keeping them away from shit. Minimizing the external shit. It's parenting -- shit." -- Nancy Botwin, Weeds

I once had a neighbor tell me that she and her husband weren't animal people -- because animals pooped. But one day, she hoped that she and her husband would have children.

I'm sure there were a slew of stupid things that came out of my mouth pre-X-man, but I'm really hoping none of them sounded THIS dumb.

There are certain things you sign up for when you become a parent and a lot of them are similar to choosing to be a pet owner. You clean up a lot of urine and feces that aren't yours. When the whole family gets the stomach flu, you get to clean up your goo and your children's. (If you're blessed with a lousy spouse, you get to clean up his/her goo, too.) You get used to it, because over the 40 weeks you have the beloved parasite in your womb, you deal with a wide range of crazy concerning your own body. There's vomiting (and sometimes peeing while you vomit), frequent trips to the bathroom, edema, random bleeding, acid reflux and sometimes even rectal bleeding. Yeah!

Then after the little tiger is born, you get the breast milk, the return of your period, which is often a lot different than it was pre-birth and a new bundle of joy that poops in the colors of the rainbow (pray they're not explosive), pees in the middle of changing or baths, drools and, when the poor kiddo gets sick, vomits in his/her crib and then rolls in it. You get to suck their boogers out of their noses, too.

So, when people get a little "yuck" over the idea of scooping a litterbox, I crinkle my eyebrows. It's one thing not to want an animal in your house or want to take care of something (or lose something that you bond with). I get that. But dude, kids are gross.

And this morning, I got the joy of Motherhood in full. X-man and I took Lily to her last vet appointment (we'll be signing her up for the dog park tomorrow!) of puppy shots and tests. I buckled her into a seat belt on the way up because I didn't want her running all over the car. Responsible, right? Well, um, it turns out if she's buckled in, she can't get her "car legs" about her, and she -- vomits.

Maybe she'll be better on the way home? Yeah, no. Had to stop for more vomiting... As I was cleaning it up with wet wipes and kleenex (the two things I have in my car), X-man started dry heaving. I told him to get out. He walked away shouting, "I'm allergic to dog vomit!"


I got it cleaned up. I got the puppy cleaned up. Then I unbelted her and let X-man hold her leash. She was perfectly fine all the way home. But now I get to Bissell the backseat tonight.

If you think, yeah, but Loosey that's your pet... How is your kid messy? Right now he's sitting in the living room without his pants on because he accidentally waited too long to get to the potty and managed to pull down his pants and pee on them before getting ahold of his penis and directing the stream. So, I've cleaned the toilet seat and washed urine from his clothes.

See, the rest of my life... urine and vomit and feces that's not mine.

Because, like the book says, everyone eats -- so everyone poops.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Museum Disappointments

Today I took X-man to the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal, IL. We've visited every 6-12 months since X-man was 15 months old. In a way the museum has kind of grown with him. It was heavy in building materials when he was Bob the Builder Crazy. We used to have to tear him away from the train table when he was a toddler. They built an Avanti's pizza shop exhibit when he got into cooking when he was 3. And at 4, he suddenly was interested in farming and physics. Now at 5, he enjoyed playing in every exhibit that was open to him. They're replacing the water table, which is nice to see. And he will always be totally into the grocery store concept.

But the main humdinger came when we checked in at the desk. The Association for Science and Technology Centers Reciprocal membership, which is one of the main perks for purchasing an Orpheum Science Museum in town, has changed their radius rules for free entrance into other museums. The way the Association works is that members of certain children's museums can pay more for their memberships, but they can use them at other science and children's museums around North America. We've used them all over Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ontario. It saves a heap of money in the big cities where getting in is often well over $15 per person, and where parents usually follow their toddlers or pre-schoolers while they run from exhibit to exhibit in overexcited glee. The old rule was that you could get free access to any museum over 50 miles away. Therefore, we could get in free in Normal and in Decatur. The new rule is that the museum has to be over 90 miles away. By shear luck, the person at the desk didn't seem to care and just checked us in, even when she checked my photo ID. But next to the check in was a flyer. I saw the 90 miles in bold and flipped out. I picked up the flyer and double checked at the ASTC web site when I got home. And sure enough... the membership rules had changed.

When X-man was smaller, we visited the other cities enough that it was definitely a worthwhile purchase to get a Super Family Membership at the Orpheum. Now that he's bigger, he's outgrowing some of the exhibits in the children's museums downstate. He was the perfect age for a lot of the exhibits up at the Chicago Museum when we were there in March, however. I guess when we go to make our membership purchase next spring, we'll have to really consider how many museums we'll visit over 90 miles away. Now that X-man is in school, we'll obviously be doing less traveling. So, it's likely paying the $125 won't be worth it. Then we have to ask ourselves how often we use the Orpheum and if paying the $60 family membership is worth it for club and camp discounts. Mmmmmm...

All I know is that if I still had a child under 4 and was prone to needing to get him out of the house to somewhere new and different during the very long winter, I'd be disappointed that I had to pay in Decatur and Bloomington after not having to pay previously.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Suicide Button

In high school I read the book Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein. In the book, the main character Lazarus Long is the oldest living full human left in the universe. It's a sci fi book way, way, way in the future. Anyway, Lazarus has decided he's seen everything, done everything and he's ready to push his suicide button, but a young descendent of his is trying to discourage him from doing so.

I've decided I want one of these buttons installed. I'm not a rash human by nature. In fact it takes me forever to make big decisions, and I agonize over them. But seriously, when I get to the point where either my body or my mind goes (it's a toss up which will degrade to mush first) I want to be able to just push the button. No chancing it with pills, no gun, no ugly. Just a nice cocktail with an umbrella in it, a good view pushing the button and slipping away.

Where does this come from? It comes from my latest trip to see Dr. Mary. Nyssa has been in pain for two days. It's her back. X-rays don't show any kind of break or fracture, but they can't really pick up if she slipped a disk. There's also some possibility she suffered a stroke of some kind because she appears to have lost some use of her left paws. Either way, she's clearly unhappy. The x-ray also showed that she has really bad arthritis in the lumbar area of her spine. Like so bad that her disks are fused together. So Mary gave her an injection of anti-inflammatory and she's on Cosequin twice a day. If the pain improves and she gets better, we'll just keep her on Cosequin long term. If not, we'll have to try some steroids. Luckily, all of her blood work is stellar for an almost 13-year-old cat.

Still, in some ways, I wish when it came to the end of the line for our pets, and even our other loved ones, there was an easier way to say goodbye. That naturally, we could all just push our own buttons. It seems a whole lot more civilized that way.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What Would You Do?

On Sept. 30th, I'll be on a flight to Florida. I am supposed to participate in the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon on Oct. 1. But I've got this injury. I have to call Disney tomorrow to finish my reservations. Since I have a non-refundable ticket and $250 into it, the least I'm getting is a vacation with my two other runner friends.

My plan right now, since I'm totally fine walking. Is to work on getting to a place where I try to run/walk 1/2 of it... and then totally walk the rest. I should be able to maintain less than the required 16-minute per mile pace that way. On the other hand, if I can't maintain it, I'll be picked up by the slow bus. 

I'm also thinking about seeing if I can come up with some kind of running shirt that has the slow moving vehicle triangle on it with a Tigger Tail and the word "Injured" across it. :-) 

The truth is that instead of treating it like a race, I've started to think of it as a fancy place to get in some physical activity, rather than pulling out completely.

Does that make sense?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Riding a Bike

X-man has outgrown the Iron Man 16" bike we got him last year, and we know that riding a two-wheeler is coming down the pike. So we took him to Champaign Cycle to find him a bike that will be able to take the continual beatings of being put down when our child learns. When he first got his Iron Man bike, he fell off twice, and pieces of plastic snapped off and rolled away everywhere. 

X-man was excited about it at first. Then when we got there, he backed away from the bike with no training wheels. The shopkeeper was very nice to him, and took him over to a selection of bikes that were hooked up to a trainer (an item that lets you pedal a bike while it's standing without it falling over). X-man thought it was a rather cool invention. So he got on the 16" bike, and he was at the biggest size confirming that he'd grown. Then he mounted the 20" bike and was on the smallest setting of the 20" bike. The only way to go is up, right? 

What Champaign Cycle recommended doing was taking the pedals and the training wheels off of his Iron Man bike and letting him scoot around on it like a balance bike to get used to it. Then to start him off on trying to ride his big boy bike. I'm guessing that we'll be doing it in October, which is convenient, because the Savoy Recreation Center is having a "Learn to Ride Your Bike" session for children ages 5-10 from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 on the Softball Field in Jones Park. The cost is $10 for Savoy residents and $13 for non-residents and you can register online. :-) (Non-Savoy Residents can register on August 16... residents can register now.) 

I figured this was a good thing to sign up for because 1) my child often rises to the occasion when we're not the ones showing him how to do something and 2) he'll see other kids having difficulties and falling and know that it's normal.

However, on the way out of the store, X-man wanted to get on the new bike pronto. So he rode around while MacTroll held onto the backseat. :-) That was encouraging for all of us. We also get 25 percent off the labor on fixing the bike here on out and a free check up/maintenance visit after 30 rides. MacTroll and I also picked up new helmets as ours from 1998 were getting ridiculous. :-)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Listen to that...It's quiet.

 Right now at this very moment MacTroll is 4 blocks away at the park behind Head Start camping with X-man. There are 4 families and 1 Savoy rec center staff member there. When I left at 7:30, they had cooked hot dogs and were busting out the s'mores and the sun was setting.

I am on dog duty. Speaking of, Lily's curled up on MacTroll's pillow and resting her head on my chest.

It's kind of nice to be home alone with just the fuzzies. This never happens. This should totally happen more. The best part was that I came home, walked the dog, watered the lawn a little bit, ate some snacks, made the grocery list for tomorrow and planned out meals for the next few days, looked at the Urbana Park District Catalog and chatted on Facebook.

I mean, really, it was enjoyable.

I'm hoping that the storms that were slated for midnight, that are now supposedly coming at 3 a.m., show up later in the morning. I don't mind if they rain on me at the market and Meijer. But I'd rather not have MacTroll have to drag X-man home late at Night. I told him that he could just leave the tent there and we'd get it in the a.m. But I'm hoping that he is smart enough to put all the folding chairs and the ball we took in his car tonight, just in case, so he's not running around in a storm trying to gather things up.

That would suck.

Gee, it's 9:15 p.m. and I'm thinking of falling asleep. Lily just readjusted herself further to the right. Nyssa has curled up next to my left hip. There is that Nathan Fillion Movie "Super" downstairs to watch. But maybe I'll wait and do that with MacTroll tomorrow night.

I like this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I have frequently have fantasies about living a life where I only take care of myself. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Island Adventure Highlights

I've had people tell me I was crazy for going to the Caribbean in the summer, but I prefer it. "It's warm at home," they've told me. Yeah, but seriously... the sprinkler and the public pool look nothing like this. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wait, What is this Feeling I'm Having?

Could it be? It is... it's worry. Where did this come from? And why do I have it? Last week I was calm and a bit zen about the whole upcoming kindergarten experience.

And now I'm worrying. What if my kid is a behavioral problem? What if he is below average in the classroom? I swear I don't have any more energy left to deal with trying to inspire a "me-crazed" five year old.

Yes, I know I registered him for kindergarten today, which is probably why I'm all a mess. His teacher for next year is Ms. Dramado. He was kind of whatever about the whole thing until he said to me that he was sad he didn't get Mrs. White because she had two kitchens in her room when they took the tour. And I figured if that's what he was qualifying as his must-have priority list for kindergarten, I think he's going to be horrified to learn that he's not a little boy any more. That kindergartners get in trouble for rough housing and yelling.

I went over some of the rules from the handbook that came in my registration packet. The one he was most concerned about was not being able to wear hats in the classroom. "Well, I guess I can dress up and just leave my fireman hat at home."

Shit. It reminds me of when I was 8 and I spent the whole night before third grade up worrying that I was going to do something stupid and get detention (because you couldn't get a detention before third grade). I worried about it for weeks.

I explained that he couldn't dress up in costume and go to kindergarten, except around, maybe, Halloween. My son was not amused with this discovery.

He's placed in a room where I think we only know one other child. He's an old friend from Next Generation, so that will work fine. To be truthful, I was a little afraid that if he and all of his best buddies ended up in the same class, it would be a lot of rough and tumble and figuring out that they were in school and not on a play date. But he had friends like Special K's boys who were in different classrooms at Next Gen and he was always happy to see them in the building and on the playground. I don't think it will be any different here.

Right now he's in the bathtub. I'm putting him to bed by 8:30, the estimated school bedtime. And I'll wake him up at 6:30 a.m., the estimated school wake up time. We're going to aim for this every weekday night until school starts.

Tomorrow, I won't have time to think about it. After I drop him off at sports camp at 7:30 a.m., I'm working out for an hour I'll pick up the book drop books, and then head into MMO to start going through my room. KTDID is going to come over and help. We're going to move things around, and I'm going to try to figure some things out that I'll need. Then I'll pick X-man up and get him some lunch and then drop him off at Little Gym Under the Sea camp so that he can have fun there, while I'm mowing my 3' high weeds and trying to some outside yard maintenance. It was so pretty before the three week-long heatwaves and now, I'm the saddest yard on the block. Sigh.

On Wednesday, X-man and I are headed to the pool. He's excited. He showed me in St. John that he can swim (via doggie paddle and underwater) across the width of the pools (around 12 feet). Yeah, there's no freestyle yet, but he can do it. So he's going to give the yellow slide a go at Sholem.

And here I thought that was going to be our biggest challenge this summer? As it turns out, I'm the one that's a wreck and he's just -- normal.

Return from the Land of the Still and Quiet

X-man and I returned home from our five-day excursion to St. John in the U.S.V.I. It's his second trip down there in a year, and we were encouraged to visit again thanks to a wedding invitation for my cousin. Destination weddings are expensive, and our family plus my parents were the only ones able to really make it down. But the three of us don't turn down beach time in crystal blue waters -- ever.

This year was actually more exciting than last because my child who cannot float at the pool by himself without first somehow filling his swim shorts with air was able to float in salt water just find. He was a buoyant baby. Want to know how I know... perhaps the cutest thing I've ever seen him do (besides when he got his eyes tested for kindergarten) was throw on fins, a mask and a snorkel, dive into water head first, kicking his way out into sea. We stayed closed to shore, but some of the beaches easily got over his head. And he totally didn't care. When he had enough, rather than standing up, he swam back to shallower waters. Except the one time we saw a puffer fish eating a dead crab underwater. He was so excited at the size of it that he stood up, grabbed on to me shouting and pulled me under. Doh. I'm a pretty okay swimmer, so I got him calmed down and back into shore without too much trouble (that's why we didn't venture more than 40 feet away from the beach or over any coral with him).

I have pictures to show you, but they're in a camera in some luggage that didn't make the drastic gate change from D49 at one end of Miami airport (still my least favorite airport) to E-5. So, we're waiting on them to come home. One of these days, I'll be rich enough to afford a ticket from ORD to STT direct without having to make transfers. But since airfare for three was $1,800 and we got to go for free with MacTroll's miles, I'm not complaining. Our whole trip was maybe $800.

The wedding was lovely. We couldn't stay too much for the party, but X-man was full of his 1,000 questions at the wedding ceremony, which my parents found very entertaining. X-man went swimming at the pool at my Aunt's resort with MacTroll while I got some exercise walking around town. Then we dried them off and got them to the reception at Rhumb Lines. (Self service rum available. I made myself a coconut raspberry martini.) But you could also make use of the open bar.

Also, turns out my kid has the sweetest blood ever. Every night he'd emerge from his room at the house we were staying in with giant welts from mosquito bites all over his body. I sprayed him with some mosquito repellent but that stuff only lasts 3 hours, and, of course, the first night I got his arms and legs but forgot his feet... and no one likes bites on their feet.

The house itself was on the south side of the island, but it was at one dead end on top of a cliff -- great for cool breezes, but a kind of a distance to drive to the beach. The road this house was on didn't connect to our normal south end beach, so you had to drive all the way around the other side of the island and come back to visit any of our usual places. But the house was free thanks to a family friend, and we were very grateful for their hospitality and that X-man got to see my dad and stepmother for a few days. He's had the honor of vacationing with all of his grandparents this summer.

Our 18-hour trip home yesterday was very taxing. My child had enough brains to wake up at 7 a.m., pee and go back to sleep. His mother did not. I was was up at 6:15 a.m. I've showered, done some laundry and opened the mail. Wait, I even ate some oatmeal. MacTroll on the other hand, never made it to Austin. His day of travel stopped short in Dallas.

Mother nature really screwed us yesterday. But today, today is going to be a wonderfully productive day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Want a Do Over

Today was a LOUSY day.Yes, life is always this way the night before you go on vacation. But, I really didn't need a 3-hour medical detour in the middle of my day. I don't really feel like rehashing the whole thing, but let's just say there was pain and blood and profuse apologies from multiple medical personnel, and it's made me decide that after I'm done with hematology and whatever their best swing is at my low ferritin, I'm pretty much going to avoid doctors for a while. Because I've seen enough of them. They're very nice people and they're doing their best, but shit just falls through the cracks or things don't go my way. Or there's a lot of pursing of lips, as they admit something that they thought would be super easy -- really wasn't. Because let's face it, as a person, my body is apparently not just rebelling -- it's breaking.

And I wonder, as I hand over my credit card to pay a $20 copay for something that they couldn't actually make happen, why am I paying?

Okay, I have to get up and get my kid up at 4 a.m. to get on a plane at 5 a.m. My butt won't be on the beach until Thursday morning, but it'll be in a beach house tomorrow night with my parents. And really, I'm just going to float around the freaking ocean until all the crankiness melts away from my body. It may take longer than the 3 days we'll actually be there, but I'll do the best I can.

Who Knew?

Yesterday, X-man made a new friend "X-man +1." We knew there was another X-man in town because we saw his name on something in one of the elementary schools that we toured. X-man +1 is one year older than X-man. He's a very sweet little boy who loves to go swimming and play Legos. Mmm, sounds familiar.

Yesterday, we went to X-man +1's house. He has a pool in the backyard and the boys played Legos for an hour and then swam for 45 minutes. When X-man got out, his eyes were bright red from diving for rings. This has been happening more and more lately. At Grizzly Jack's I had to hold a cold compress to his eyes to help him out. And he had some eye rubbing issues at Sholem when we're there for a while, he had them after Magic Waters, too. Well, it turns out the home pool was the last straw, and X-man couldn't open his eyes because they itched so bad. He sat through snack okay (because really, who passes up the opportunity to try a Ho Ho for the first time) with the cold compress on his face. X-man +1's grandfather kept apologizing. But we were doing okay, until we weren't. So I swept X-man away to Walgreen's to get a sterile eye wash. He was holding his own until the pharmacist said, "If he starts to have trouble seeing, taking him straight to the hospital."

Great. Thanks. My child had a total freak out for the next 35 minutes. As he's panicking as we leave Walgreen's, I'm trying to call my husband to put him on alert that he'll be holding down our kid while I try to wash out his eyes. (It's a weird feeling if you're not a contact wearer.) I rinsed out both eyes very, very good when we got home, but he was still panicking and screaming, so I called the Ask-a-Nurse line at Carle.

And guess what -- I didn't get a nurse. Why do you call it the Ask-a-Nurse Hotline if there's not actually a nurse at the other end. If I wanted to get put on hold while someone found a nurse, I'd call a main switchboard. But apparently, all the nurses were with patients and busy. Wait, what? It's an Ask-a-Nurse hotline. They offered to "take a message" while my child screamed in the background.

So, I took him to Convenient Care. Because, as with all things X-man, I have to balance his emotional anxiety over things with what I know from First Aid to be true. I knew his eyes stung. I knew that he wanted to keep rubbing them. I knew that as soon as the word hospital came up he thought bad things were going to happen to him, and it was clear that as much as he loves his father, MacTroll was having trouble convincing X-man to calm down. He offered to rinse out X-man's eyes again, but X-man kept screaming, "It's not working!"

So I picked him up and carried him to the car. MacTroll drove us. On the way, I was describing to X-man where we were on the way to the doctor's. That calmed him down immensely. When we got there, I put his flip flops in my purse and carried him in. I let MacTroll register him at the desk and then we went to the waiting room, where X-man sat in my lap and listened (and then 10 minutes later watched with a lot of blinking) Spongebob Squarepants, which he'd never seen.

Some time later, the triage nurse came and got us. X-man still had 1" round circles around his eyes, but the whites of his eyes were -- white again. Goooo eyewash!

He was able to tell the nurse his birthday and answer her questions. He had no idea what to do with an under the tongue thermometer though. We had the ear one before I just upgraded us to the kind where you don't have to touch the child's forehead.

Then we went back to the waiting room... and then we saw Dr. Kirby. I like Dr. Kirby. He's my favorite Convenient Care doc for kid stuff. We've seen him plenty of times for strep throat and pink eye. He's efficient and thorough and polite. So thorough that after he did his physical and eye exam, HE came out to the pharmacy to find us when he noticed the medical assistant didn't do a vision test.

We have a prescription for steroid eye drops, and we now know for sure that X-man has a sensitivity to chlorine. So, now I just have to find a pair of goggles that he'll keep on his head.

As for X-man +1, chlorine sensitivities aside, the playdate was a hit. We'll be contacting them when we get back in town from the Virgin Islands to see if the boys want to come over to our place. :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Think I had a Brain -- Once.

In my dreams and twisted memory, there was a time when I had game. I could out multi-task anyone. Seriously, I had eyes in the back of my head, super ears and an instinct that was pretty dead on.

Now, I'm like a wilted spy. The instinct for information and how to best use it is still there, but my extra eyes are reserved for people under four feet tall, my ears appear less adept at hearing (probably due to the noise volume of my iPhone when I exercise), and my instinct, well... it's -- distracted is putting it nicely.

For the last several months, I've been using Powerstep inserts as a way to help with my Plantar Fasciitis. I only got to run once in my shoes with them, and then I noticed that I felt like I was loading my right foot heavier. The inserts were perfect in my left foot, so what gives?

Today, I decided to take the inserts out of my shoes and put the original brand spanking new Mizuna supports back into my tennis shoes. It was a great plan. When I first got the shoes I remember sitting on the stairs and putting the Powersteps into the shoes and putting the Mizuna bottoms into the Mizuna box, which I then dutifully carried upstairs and put on the top shelf of my closet.

When I went to retrieve them, I only found the left one. Well, crap. It has to be around here somewhere. I started to search. Then I decided to put the left one into the shoe before I lost it. I pulled the shoes out, and I noticed that there was already a Mizuna support in the right shoe. Thus, I was wearing two levels of support, which explains to me why my foot felt so heavy and way too lifted when I wore them. It also might explain why I had so much trouble balancing on my right leg during physical therapy. So, now I'm trying the insert without the Mizuna bottom in. It still feels way heavier than the left foot, but then again, my senses down there are a little messed up from the nerve entrapment.

Sigh. I feel like a moron. Where is my brain?

Next week, I plan on going to the ARC at the U of I to look into a membership, so I can use their 50 meter pool at my leisure rather than having to abide to specific early morning/late night lap swim times. We'll see how it works out.