Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's a Rotary Weekend

Thursday was my weekly Rotary meeting. Representative Chad Hays from Danville came to speak to us. My friend Sara came along as my guest.

Then last night, MacTroll and I dropped off X-man at Little Gym and went to BW3 where we had a few beers and did trivia with a couple other Rotary members. Unfortunately, one of our members couldn't find us in the restaurant because it was so busy.

Tonight I'm chaperoning a high school formal dance for the Interact Club (kind of like high school level Rotary) at the Savoy Recreation Center. I'm taking a veggie tray and some snacks.

In other news, I did Kari's circuit class this morning and am looking forward to having time to do it 3/4 Saturdays next month. Just a few nice ladies sweating on a Saturday morning in her basement. Tomorrow I'm going to go back to the gentle yoga class at Amara (I missed last week because we took my Dad out for breakfast as a thank you for taking care of X-man). Then in the afternoon, I get to walk with a friend at Meadowbrook at 2 p.m. I'm also hoping to get through most of the women's basketball game with X-man on Sunday before the walk.

Next week, MacTroll is headed to Montreal. Yes, I'm jealous. But he's got work. And I've got work. And sooner or later I know I'll get up there myself.

Overall, I've been in an a noticeably happier mood since last week. I think that's a good thing. But I've also gotten more adult time in the last week than I have in forever.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Curiosity with a cat on my lap

Since I had some time to myself in a sitting position lately, I decided to personally review the tax returns of Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and Newt Gingrich (and their spouses). I know the point of the article was to show the discrepancy in how the uber rich pay taxes, but I was more interested in where they sent their charitable donations and how much went where.

It was interesting to me that the Obama's have a long list of places they've parsed out between $1,000 and $5,000 with the exception of some place called the Fisher House which helps provide places to live for veterans ans their families. This they gave a pile of money to (like a little over half) out of the almost quarter of a million dollars that they donated.

It was also no big surprise that out of the almost $3 million the Romneys gave away it was all in various stocks and investments not in cash. What was surprising was that they gave it all to one place -- the Tyler Foundation, which helps families who have children with epilepsy -- and then to their church.

As far as the Gingrich's return, their $81,000 in donations all appeared to go to his church.

This means nothing. I was just curious. Because to me, where you give your money to says a lot about who you are. But you know me... I'm just nosy.


I ended up still having stomach problems last night and this morning. I was fine, until I made the error to eat something and then around bedtime my body was not happy. So, I'm stuck at home again today. Sigh. I at least used the time to work on three of my student's observation books, which made me feel a little better.

But the best part of my morning was watching X-man run up the ramp access to the kindergarten door, stopping, turning around and waving at me before going in. Then as I ran to get the book drop (cause I do that every Tuesday), there was a small boy standing on the corner (probably 4th grade) waiting for a school bus. He began jumping up and down and smiling and waving at me.

He might have thought I was someone else's mother. But he kept doing it as I waved back. I think he was just trying to move to stay warm. But it was friendly, and it made me happy.

Friendly, happy little kids are the best.

So are sleepy puppies. So I think I'll take a bit of a nap now.

Monday, January 23, 2012


At 12:30 a.m., my insides on my lower left side twisted in pain. I got up and rushed to the bathroom, and there I stayed until 4 a.m. So, I ended up staying home today, which meant I missed out on seeing my Clownfish, getting my son to school and volunteering at Carrie Busey's library.

Since Pepto failed to help, MacTroll ran out today and got me some Immodium. For whatever reason, that seems to be doing the trick. But I am thankful it's Monday. I can pick X-man up from school (his heart would break if he wasn't a car rider on a car rider day) give him his snack, have him do his homework and then drop him off at Rec Zone at SRC. On winter days like today, I'm glad that we have a regular drop in program nearby. I wish they had a day of drop in that was Rec Zone each week and a day that was Lego Club each week, because right now they flip flop. But X-man really needs some running around time when they have "indoor" recess in their classroom on rainy days.  And I could use another 60 minutes of sleep.

MacTroll flies back to California at 5 p.m. He'll be gone until Wednesday. So I'm hoping whatever this gastrointestinal thing is -- it's gone soon and I can get a good night's sleep. I don't do well on 4 hours.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Mess

While we were in California, MacTroll and I were able to have some heart to hearts. Well, to be fair, I was doing the talking and he was doing the listening. And I think he did a good job of not trying to stare at me slack jawed as I confessed that I've been feeling like I've been failing pretty hard as a wife and mother.

Other people seem to enjoy this whole parenthood thing more than I do. And as much as I love my kid, there are distinct times when I think -- some other woman would be much better at this than I am. I don't know how others feel about it, but it's shitty to know that you're giving something your all and that it will never be enough. I always figured I'd break my kid in different ways than my parents broke me. But I promise that I'm trying my best -- just like they did.

I started reading a book tonight called Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner. It was published in 2005. And it's a doozy. I can't stop reading and feeling even more and more sick about the state of motherhood. Because what the book spells out for me, is that I'm not alone in my feelings and that this situation has been going on for a very long time. And it doesn't matter if you work full-time, part-time or if you stay at home. It doesn't matter if you're an attachment parent or a formula feeder or a single parent. The guilt. The expectations are all very much the same.

She focuses the book on the middle to upper-middle class mothers. She interviewed over 150 of them. Some online and some in person. She did a lot of comparative research about motherhood over the last 60 years and traces that what is popular in mothering -- is what is popular during that time in culture.

She goes through the decades of the Murphy Brown Mommies of the 1980s and the Soccer Moms of the 1990s. And then she gets to the "Minivan Mom" of 2000. And whammo, this giant bat hits me in the head.

"The new definition of motherhood was, in the popular imagination, the state of being 'almost always on-duty.' Yet the duties of parenthood had now reached epic proportions. It wasn't enough, if you were 'at home' or working part-time, to be there to pick up your kids at school if you wanted to clock in virtuous mommy hours. You had to do homework with your children, bake for their bake sales, and volunteer at their schools. You had to give quality and quantity time -- and if you wanted, at the same time to set your child on the path to a productive future, you had to model productive behavior, and keep yourself in a state of constant busyness. Your love for your child was judged not just by the amount of time you spent with him or her but by the amount of time you spent doing for him or her..."

'We were the girls who could Do Anything. This was not something we had to shout about, or something we had to prove, it just was...Coed gym and woodworking shop, and told us to never let the boys drown out our voices in class. Often enough, we did better than they did in school. Even in science and math. We called our teachers 'Ms.' We went to college in classes that were more than 50 percent female... We believed that we could  climb as high as we wanted to go, and would live adult lives that would allow us to be the people we wanted to be. Other outcomes -- like the chance that children wouldn't quite fit into this picture -- never even entered our minds... In the 1980s, while our baby boomer elders continued their quest to achieve firsts in the worlds of business and politics and elsewhere, we earned the dubious distinction of being the first generation ever to register an 'epidemic' of eating disorders... 'Even though feminine dependency is no longer in fashion young women combine traditional expectations with a quest for equity and power. To be brainy and beautiful; to have an exciting $75,000 a year job; to nurture two wonderful children in consort with a supportive but equally high-powered husband-these are the personal ambitions of many in the present college generation'."

Groan. Groan. Groan. And it only got worse...

"Now her little boy was in weekly occupational therapy and, at more than $100 per session, it was worth every penny, she told me. She laughed about it. She was un-self-forgivingly clear-sighted. 'OT' might or might not be doing much of anything for her son. But it was proving highly therapeutic for her. 'Look, I'm a very high-anxiety person,' she said. 'I'd rather believe my son has issues -- that he doesn't listen to me because he can't, because, as the occupational therapist says, he's too busy listening to what's going on in his body-- than to have to think it's just because I'm a bad mother.' A bad mother? I asked... She looked down and twisted her napkin nervously. 'If I did things right,' she said softly, "he'd listen."

... because I identify with it all.

And what makes me feel the most terrible -- Is that my whole life suddenly feels like a total cliché.

California by Car

Whew. We're back. And I have to tell you, it was a very productive trip.

MacTroll and I got to California around noonish on Tuesday and we began our "explore the places people like to live in California" tour. We started at the home of Stanford -- Palo Alto. We ate at the Prolific Oven, which if you ever go -- there's no need to get a baked item, unless the free, small and unexpected slice of cake they give you with your sandwich is a flavor you don't care for. Forty five minutes in California and they were already handing out free cake... Palo Alto was far too congested and expensive and -- college focused -- for me to want to explore any more. So we moved on, but you know -- we'll go back for cake.

We drove over the Dunbarton Bridge to our hotel. MacTroll used his Starwood Points so we stayed for free at the W -- Silicon Valley, well, we were supposed to stay for free... I had looked at the hotel and thought it was way out of the way, and I was right. If there is such a thing, this is a "Lesser W." It's surrounded by abandoned or never-filled office complexes and it's $150 cab ride from SFO to get there. They jacked up our bill by giving us some random $50 surcharge per night over the taxes that we weren't supposed to have. The elevator key fob was iffy as to whether it would work or not and the part of the bay you over look is basically a giant mud pit with lots of shorebirds. So, if you're a bird watcher... go for it. If not. Stay the hell away. There is no point to be in Fremont, Calif., if you don't have to be. MacTroll wrote a letter to the manager, and he was very good at giving back our $100 and gave MacTroll 3,000 more points as an apology. But still... no one welcomed you. No one was at the door. The restaurant was just a room with random tables. It lacked. In a lot of ways...particularly in comparison to other W hotels.

After we dropped off our stuff, we drove down to San José and checked out the Rose Garden neighborhood. The houses are nice, pretty affordable for California, but the schools aren't really as fabulous as some of the other places we were looking. Where we were looking at homes it was easy to walk to schools, but not so easy to walk to businesses like a grocery store.

Then we went to Willow Glen. I had high hopes for it. And I wasn't let down. Willow Glen has a nice downtown area that is more meant for carry out and quick eating with kids than for date night. This is fine because it's also only 2 miles away from downtown San José and there's a CalTrain that runs up to San Francisco, if you want to go up there for a weekend and not have to pay to park or deal with traffic on 280 or 101. It's 9 miles away from the Fruit. And two of MacTroll's colleagues live in the area. There is a main street (Lincoln Avenue) that has a wealth of independent businesses, a lot of big bank branches, a Starbucks, a BevMo and some gyms/spas. There was also a kid's bookstore, where we stopped to get a gift for X-man (He's wild about Mo Willems these days) and a toy store up the street. There were also THREE frozen yogurt places that were like mini versions of Cocomero in Champaign. There were kids (mostly middle schoolers) walking around. That night we had dinner at MacTroll's boss' house in the area. It was nice to get to know them, and I consumed more wine that night than I had in my life.

On Wednesday morning, we visited Booksin Elementary and were given a wonderful tour by their assistant principal. It was one of the few non-uniform required schools in San José. The teachers were very welcoming and the children were very friendly. We got to see what an average school day looks like for a Booksin student and tour the classrooms, library and computer lab.

We'll have to get used to the open air campus. To go anywhere, you have to go outside, and it doesn't matter if it's raining. Lunch is usually outside on picnic tables under some sun screens right next to a small grove of redwoods. Plus, there's an organic garden project that looks like it's being copied by some other schools in the area. We liked Willow Glen. It was clean, easy to walk around and had walking access to groceries on both sides of the hood. People took care of their homes, too. Finding a place we felt comfortable in was a big sigh of relief and also a cause of tension. Here's the thing that I like about schools of choice. You can -- mostly -- live anywhere in a town you want to live and send your child to any school in the city. San José has neighborhood schools, which focuses your house search to a certain 20x20 block area. But what happens if a house your size and in your budget doesn't go up for sale at the right time. Then what do you do? That's a timing issue... uncontrollable.

In terms of housing, we're looking at the potential of having a house that is 1/2 the size of ours (around 1700 square feet) for about double the price. We did a practice run during rush hour to downtown San José from Willow Glen. You have to go under a major highway, so the neighborhoods get a little sketchy. Some roads do have bike paths though, so that's worth some exploration because it took us 30 minutes to go 5 miles in a care due to us hitting EVERY stop light we came to. The lights were obviously VERY long and, therefore, VERY annoying. We'll also need to explore the bus and light rail options going on over there, should I find work downtown.

After Willow Glen, we drove down to Cambrian Park. We drove around some neighborhoods and schools there. The schools got good marks, but the neighborhoods were more beat up and there was no business district to walk to.

A lot of MacTroll's co-workers sent him down to Los Gatos. And the neighborhoods were nicer, and the schools received good reviews and marks, but it wasn't a cozy community, it was a concrete suburb. There were lots of people driving to the same chain stuff you can get here. There were large shopping complexes versus the small, independent stores of Willow Glen.

Then we toured Saratoga. It has more of a 1970s California feel. And, um, from what I can tell, the people currently in the area probably had young families in 1970. It had the same walk around feeling as Willow Glen, but more the Boomer Generation than ours. It would be a lovely place to go to dinner. But the pricing was twice of that as Willow Glen.

Around lunch time we went to Cupertino. MacTroll took me around the neighborhoods where he jogs. Cupertino's highest rated schools are only available via a lottery system, which I refuse to take part in. Plus, we could afford a fancy 2-bedroom duplex for what we could get a single family home for in Willow Glen. So, um. No. We did, however, eat at a fun burger restaurant called The Counter. You fill out a slip of paper with what you want on it. It's totally custom and they have vegetarian options, which was fabulous. It's in a large shopping complex near MacTroll's favorite hotel the Valencia. There is an outside area called Santana Row (one of the large Row complexes was being built in Virginia just before we moved) and then there was a mall next to it. I wish I had enough energy to shop while we were there because they had all the stores you'd ever want to shop at. Even the kids area had a Lego Store next to a Build-a-Bear next to the Nestle Tollhouse Cookie booth (Yeah, I know I can make those at home.), next to a Hello Kitty Store, etc. We also stopped by the Fruit Campus and picked up some Fruit gear for X-man and my Dad.

By now we were pooped, so we drove all the way back to Fremont and took a nap. :-) The next morning we checked out and started our drive up to Mendocino to the Stanford Inn by the Sea, a Vegan resort on the coastline in the middle of nowhere.

But first we had breakfast in Berkeley, which, as a town, was a bit more seedy and a lot less hippie than I was expecting but the café was awesome. And then we stopped for an hour-long walk through Muir Woods. And it was at this point that I began to get excited about the idea of living in California. There's a whole new range of places to explore there. 1,000 year old redwoods, banana slugs, marine life, geology... it's just different. I'll never have to put up with the boys wondering what they should do on a Sunday when I need them out of the house for a few hours. Outdoor activities can be year round. It won't be better. It'll just be -- different, and as X-man grows older, I can see the wealth of opportunity that kind of diversity can offer him. Well, that, and if you know me, you know I like all things soft and fuzzy. And the moss on these trees was softer than my Clawdio cat. And that's saying something...

After Muir we drove north to Healdsburg, where we stopped at Ridge Vineyards so MacTroll could do a tasting. We purchased two bottles of wine and had them sent to my Dad's house in Rockford as a thank you to him for taking care of X-man this week. Then we started a very long and windy track down 128 to Mendocino.

For the record, I loved the Stanford I wish we had more than one night there, and I wish it wasn't 40 degrees with a torrential downpour because then we totally could have explored the parks nearby. I do cold and I do rainy but I don't do cold and rainy. Instead, we enjoyed a small view of the ocean from our room that was warmed by a real wood fireplace, some outrageously good vegan food and I had a 50-minute massage that the therapist extended to 75 minutes, probably just because I was so crippled from sitting in the car so long. The other icky part is that I get easily car sick on windy roads... and it takes about 75 minutes to get from 101 to Mendocino... entirely on windy roads. He had to stop every 30 or 40 minutes for me to get out and walk around and eat or drink something until the nausea would settle. MacTroll was wondering what people in the area who didn't own sheep farms or vineyards did for a living way out there. When we passed the road clean up sign the organization assigned to part of the road was the "Medicinal Marijuana Growers' Association" suddenly, he didn't have to wonder any more.

Our last night in California was spent in downtown San Francisco. It's not a friendly city by nature. But the Le Meridien in the Financial District was nice and the workers there didn't mess with our bill. They upgraded MacTroll to a corner suite with a view of the Bay Bridge. We spent an hour exploring City Lights Bookstore, where I admit that I took photos of all the books I liked so I could get them at the library. Then we had dinner at an Italian restaurant, went home, watched last week's episode of Castle and fell asleep.

It was a lot of here and there in a car. MacTroll used his points for that, too. We ended up with some kind of red, convertible Mustang for five days that we drove almost 600 miles. We obviously paid for the gas we used (particularly at a premium of $5.50 a gallon -- we got only 4 gallons -- in Mendocino where they know they have you by the short and curlies) but the car itself was only $50.

The flight home was nothing exciting. And now I'm sitting in my living room, with a fire in my fire place and a puppy asleep at my feet. I'm glad I have an extra day to get back into the groove before starting back to work.

So there you go. We'll see where we are next year at this time... and if we're putting our house up for sale. But it's good to know what we like and didn't like about each area.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pleasurable Playdates

I've been reading a lot about children with social anxiety lately. On X-man's report card the only area he appears to still be having real troubles with in the classroom is making transitions from one thing to another.  In the summer, I used a tool that I learned about at the Autism Resource Room at U of I and laminated some cards that I taped to the door with our activities for the day. We went over them every morning so he knew what was going to happen when. And like a lot of parents, I give him a heads up when time is dwindling.

However, like most kids, he never wants to leave the things he's enjoying. Anyone else have a child that used to completely FLIP HIS LID when you had to leave the train table at the library?

Anyway, he has gotten better as he's gotten older, but he apparently still has a lot of emotional issues about it when they change activities at school. In addition to his social issues about not having close friendships, I thought maybe more one-on-one play dates with some kids in his class that he's identified as having similarities. Today was our first one. And, um, it's been an hour and 20 minutes and they're having a ball.

It's pretend play with Legos non-stop. I can hear them build cars and race them across the floor. I hear the Ninjago Duels in the Dojo that Nana got him for Christmas. They stopped and looked at the new Ninjago toys on the computer.

Yes, I should admit that MacTroll and I put a computer in X-man's room last week. And, surprisingly to me, I asked for us to set up parental controls. We excluded YouTube from the options. And we singled out 10 web sites that he plays with the most (PBSKids, ABCya, Starfall, NickJr, Lego, etc.). So, he has access to those. The times he can be on the computer is also limited. I felt like the computer gestapo, but I felt good about him having some more responsibility. He's got his own log in and everything. :-)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

12-Hours in the Burbs

Yesterday, I drove X-man up to Schaumburg. We stopped so he could eat lunch at a McDonald's with a play place at 11 a.m. Then we ended up at Legoland until 1:50. I was not a fan of Legoland when I used to have to watch my child like a hawk to make sure he wasn't destroying other people's Lego cars or trying to bud in line to race. These days, he's a lot more considerate of other friends and protocol. So, we tried Legoland again.

I still think it's much too overpriced for what you get (which is lame rides) and a few Lego jumps and a play-place like area. But we needed two hours to run around in a X-man zone before we were able to go to his cousin's first birthday party, where I wasn't sure there would be any other children besides the birthday boy.

And, um, there were some coupons for Legoland, so I didn't feel too bad. I figure I've paid more to go see terrible movies that left my kid not at all tired and didn't require him to have the mental interest to build something. Here he is racing his car.

We were at the birthday party at Pop's Pizza in Roselle until 4:30 p.m. Then we hit the road. We stopped in Bolingbrook to go to Ikea (I like that one MUCH better than the Schaumburg location). The playroom was full, which made X-man a little sad, but I did pre-warn him that that might happen. So, he walked through the store with me, which he liked. "It's like a museum of furniture!"

We found me the cups I was looking for for my class. And we found a medium and mini sized elephant combo to go with the giant elephant I bought him there a couple years ago. So Sula the elephant now has two babies, Biggie and Little (I was hoping the little one would be Biggie and he'd name the little one Tiny, but alas, he thought it was too confusing).

We left the house at 8:30 a.m. We returned to the house at 8:34 p.m. The whole day there was no whining, complaining, arguing or yelling. It was just fun all day long, even with the long car ride.

Now, it's time to clean my house for my father's arrival.

Let the laundry begin!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I need to stop raising my eyebrows

Once upon a time, I had the ability to totally hide what I was thinking in my face. As I get older, my ability to withhold expression has dwindled. Luckily for me, it's usually a face of wonderment, joy and excitement (that's if the wrinkles around my eyes and mouth are any indication). However, the other prominent wrinkles are from looks of wonder and disbelief and -- "Oh my god, really? Are you effing kidding me?"

Today, I called two schools in San José to get tours. The first one I called, the woman was very nice. I explained that we were relocating to the area and we were looking to get a short tour of the building and talk to someone about how the school day worked. She at first tried to give me a date in March, even though I said we'd be available next week. When I re-explained that we were flying in from Illinois. It wasn't like we were driving down from San Francisco... she said, "Yeah, that's not gonna work. Why don't I have my vice principal call you about when she's free on those days so she can schedule something."

Nice. Flexibility.

The next school the woman was totally frazzled. "Um, yeah. I don't know this far out what we're doing that day. (It's 4 school days away.) Can you just call us when you get here? I made that face... The one that's giving me the eyebrow wrinkles.

Then I had flashbacks of all the schools I visited in Champaign. Some schools were stellar about their openness and availability and others were totally bothered by me. Those attitudes totally played in my decision making. I think they'll factor in this time, too. As for private schools, they are all totally out of the price range. And they have dorky prep school uniforms.

I e-mailed the next school's principal... Because I just didn't want to put up with the tones.

But the part that's really freaking me out. Carrie Busey raised $8,500 for their fitness walk/run this year. it's a school with just over 400 students. One of the ones in San Jose has just over 700 students. Want to know their fitness walk total? -- $120,000.

I nearly had a heart attack. This is going to be a bit like entering the twilight zone next week.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Forward, back, forward again

This morning I got up and went for a 4-mile run. It wasn't crazy cold outside, but it was 27, which is the coldest it's been this winter. I'm guessing since we got the screws put to us last year, this year we're having a mild, mild winter to make up for it.

Anyway, after my run, I peeled off my sweaty clothes, washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on more deodorant and clothes and ran out the door to go to the 9:30 Gentle Yoga class at Amara.

I got there and the owner looked at me dumbfounded. Apparently, the class -- that I invited two people to join me at -- was at 9 a.m. Oops.

So I waited until the class was over and apologized to my friend. I really did feel like a dolt. Then I put my tail between my legs and picked up some tofu at the Coop. And then made a run to Meijer.

After lunch, I took Lily for a walk at Meadowbrook with a buddy. We had a nice time chatting and she really did a lot to bolster my confidence.

Because my brain has been lacking in dopamine lately... so, you know, I could use some support to pick my butt off of the floor.

After the walk, I ran down to Tolono to return the movies we took out last week and to pick up a slew of Dinosaur books for my unit at school. Then I started making dinner.

I'll post photos of it a little later, if it's any good. :-)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Getting Back to the Roots

There was a time, not so long ago, when I could walk into a store, pull a pair of pants off a rack and fit into them in any store of my choice.

That's not true any more.

It is true that I'm not banished again (yet) to Lane Bryant or to Plus-Sized departments that (outside of Kohl's) are buried in back corners of large department stores or next to Maternity sections (Target).

Perhaps it's just that I came of age in the time of the just below waist boot cut jean, and this whole skinny/slim leg/legging/low rise/ultra low rise thing is beyond me. But as a woman who has ample fuel for running in her thighs, hips and ass those styles, which are everywhere don't fit me.

I usually do my shopping consignment via Karen's Kloset, but lately, most of the jeans over there have been very 20-something or 50-something focused when I'm there. It's either my lower abdomen is spilling over to what would graciously be called a muffin top or the waist of the jeans touches my sagging 35-year old breasts. Both are uncomfortable and angering.

Once more, I am working on self acceptance and trying to be comfortable in my own skin. This has never been an easy process for me, as I continually feel broken or not good enough. I play down my strengths thinking that talking about them makes me a show off. And I expect myself to put in Herculean amounts of efforts into things that I care about, but am often frustrated when I don't get the return from that investment of effort.

So, I sat in my car after visiting two stores and held back tears before wandering into Kohl's. There I did find three pairs of jeans, all in size 10. Two sizes above what my pants in my closet are. They fit and are comfortable. And they look okay, so I took them home, and I'm trying not to beat myself up about it. But I'm sad about it.

Freak sent me a link to this story at the NYTimes the other day that talks about a lot of what I'm finding about the difficulties of weight maintenance. That the most successful at keeping it off have a military edict about them. Very Type A -- there's no bending no flexibility and it's rough. That if I want to eat bread and if my body can't take running 25 miles a week because it keeps breaking, then I'm going to be this size... Because science is showing that a person who loses a massive amount of weight changes their body chemistry. Their hormones adjust and now where a normal person who was not obese before could maintain their weight at a certain calorie amount... a person who is trying to maintain after significant weight loss has to maintain at a much lower calorie amount.

The whole thing is a fight. And lately, I've been stuffing my face since the holidays not wanting to think about it. But now I am thinking about it... And it's hard.

Because although I'm keeping 75 lbs off, I don't look good. And I want to be healthy and look good. I want both. But I don't seem to have the energy to curb my behaviors for both. And that's heartbreaking --and scary.

At the very least, I accepted my inner brunette today. It makes my eyes look bluer, and I like it a lot.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sleeping and Eating

I have been getting sleep in very short amounts lately. About five days ago, my back and hips started to go sore but only at night when I'm lying down. It felt like when I was 7 months pregnant and had to use my upper body to pull myself into a seated position to get out of bed. Once I'm up I'm fine...

So I called the chiropractor yesterday and he got me in at 3:15 p.m. today. And holy hell, was I all out of whack. I haven't been to the chiropractor in two years. Ever since he did some great work on my foot and general back issue work. My insurance only pays, really, for medical needs. They anticipate something should be fixed in five sessions -- and if it's not, it comes out of my pocket.

What's funny is that Dr. Gray put me in the same position that I've been trying to adjust myself all week. Get to the end of the bed, bend your top leg and then put pressure on the back side to get everything all lined up because as it is now, I have undue stress on my SI joint, which is what is causing the night time pain. I couldn't get it to go back in place tonight, but he sure did. Then I got "lasered."

I made two more recipes tonight. One is a side dish that is nothing to write home about, so I won't bother you with that one. But I made something else called a Tortilla Lasagna tonight, which uses toasted tortillas in place of lasagna noodles, and obviously the tomato and cheese mixture is more southwestern than Italian.

Just as a warning, mine did NOT look as pretty as the photo with the recipe was. It was really more like a casserole, so I scooped it out. I also used zucchini... because I didn't have time to hunt down a chayote.

And that's all about all I have in me. I wish I would have gotten in a run before going to the chiropractor, but it didn't work that way, and now my body is too sore. So, I'll have to try tomorrow in my circuit class to glue it all together. That's at 7:30 a.m., and I have to admit, I'm eyeing the clock, wondering if I took the Aleve for my back now, if I could sleep for the next 12 hours, and then just drive like a bat out of hell to Kari's for my morning workout.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Lowercase enthusiasm is all I've got in me tonight.

We're studying Dinosaurs at school for the next few weeks. I introduced the T-Rex and Brachiosaurus today to the children and we talked about herbivores and carnivores. They liked acting like a dinosaur and following me around the room and doing the dino-pokey. Ms. Rachel had an art activity for them to and we had a generally good first day with two new-to-us students.

In fact, work is going along swimmingly.

So why, after I dropped off X-man at school this morning did I just want to go home and have my house to myself and clean it?

And why when I did get home after a weight training workout and Rotary meeting, did I take a hot bath and then crawl into bed around 4:45 p.m. only to be woken by MacTroll bringing X-man upstairs for bath time at 7 p.m.? He thought I'd gone to Weight Management and didn't even know I was home. Oops on both counts.

In my defense, I did put clean sheets on the bed today, do some laundry, return some library books, call my chiropractor and pick up Lily from doggie daycare. So, it's not like I was completely useless.

There's just always so much to do. And it feels like the same stuff over and over and over again. And I'm just so -- tired.

Does that make any sense?

Moms' Night Out

Sometimes you just have to get out of your house. So tonight, I did.

I had totally forgotten that I had agreed to go to the neighborhood's Moms' Night until the last minute. So X-man and MacTroll headed over to LibbyGirl's by themselves.

And I sat at a Mexican restaurant for almost 3 hours chatting with four women that I only kind of know. But it was a giant stress reliever. I laughed. I cried. And it was nice to be around them.

I should get out more often. I should make that a priority.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cooking with Loosey

When I first decided to delete my account on Facebook, I had some withdrawal. But now that it's been over two months, I don't miss it at all.

However, the folks that were my Facebook friends have run into me from time to time and actually told me things they missed about my posts. Apparently, I was was humorous. (That was very sweet of them to say). I also apparently inspired them in the kitchen. So they missed my recipes.

So, I'm going to post a couple here. Both of them are vegetarian, but not vegan.

The first is a deliriously easy soup for anyone who likes mushrooms. Its from this month's issue of Vegetarian Times.

Mushroom and Pappardelle Soup with Gremolata

If you're like me, you said. "Um, I have no idea what pappardelle and Gremolata are." The truth is that the picture of the food lead me to the recipe. (I loathe cookbooks without photos. Really, what's the point unless you can see the awesome goodies in front of you. I mean, don't laugh, but I kind of want to know what it's supposed to look like, so I can tell if I'm way off or not. So, Moosehead, you and I never got along... for only this reason.) Anyway, if you click on the recipe above, you'll see the photo. It looks like a semi-creamy soup with wide noodles, mushrooms and green beans.

The beauty of this recipe is that after you sauté the mushrooms and onions, everything else is a dump and stir. That's my kind of weeknight brain power, and the whole thing takes 35 minutes or so to prepare.

As it turns out, Pappardelle are wide fettucini noodles. I couldn't find them at Schnuck's. So, I googled substitutions and ended up using the Extra Broad No Yolks noodles. I also didn't have time to run to Meijer to get the Cremini mushrooms, so I used sliced baby bellas and they were fine. I had also never used mascarpone cheese in anything, but it was in the snooty cheese section by the Deli. And it made a nice non-heavy cream base with the soup.

And a Gremolata is a "chopped herb condiment" according to Wikipedia that you use like a garnish on top of the soup before you serve it.

I'm a big fan of pho. So I devoured this like I was devouring a mega bowl of the weekend vegan pho at Xinh Xinh Café in Urbana. Now it's literally swishing around in my round, happy belly.

Nutritionally, each 1 1/3 cup bowl has around 216 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Not too bad. But I'll admit I had two of them. :-)

The other dinner is from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I ordered it online from Amazon (via London) to get a copy earlier than the one that was released in the states. I was hesitant to start with it because it is MUCH more complicated than anything I've done before. I usually stay away from any ingredient lists that require over 12 things... and I also usually require that I already have at least 7 of those things in my kitchen. For example -- salt. Not a worry.

But this one I went out on a limb for. And it was worth every moment of prep work, but I'd recommend you do it on a Sunday. Oh, and practice your pancake flipping...

Bánh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes)

1 1/3 cups rice flour
1 small egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 3/4 cups coconut milk
a little bit of sunflower oil (I used safflower)

2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce (sweet/kecap manis, if you can find it -- I didn't so I used regular)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (I am a believer in those pre-minced bottles of herbs for stuff like this)
1 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 garlic clover, crushed
1/2 tsp salt

1 large carrot, peeled
1 daikon radish, peeled (they were out at the Savoy Schnuck's and Meijer when I went, but the ones I found in Urbana were HUGE, and you only need a small one, so I substituted parsnip)
4 green onions
1 fresh green chile
1 1/2 cup snow peas
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2/3 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup enoki mushrooms

Blend the rice flour, egg, salt and turmeric in a large bowl. Slowly add the coconut milk, whisk it well to get rid of the lumps. The batter should be thin, so add more milk, if you need too. The batter will thicken while it sits, just so you're prepared to add a little more.

For the sauce, just whisk together all of the ingredients. If you don't like spicy, feel free to skip the chile.

For the filling, shred the carrot and root vegetable of your choice thinly. I used the large end of my grater. Slice the green onions on an angle and make the chile and the snow peas into long strips. Set aside all the vegetables with the herb leaves and mushrooms.

Heat up the oil in the 9" pan. This makes four servings, so you can use a measuring cup to divide if it makes it easier. Once the underside is brown, flip it over to cook the other side. Keep them warm while you do the remaining 3 pancakes.

To serve, put one pancake on each plate and fill with vegetable mixture, herbs and mushrooms. Drizzle the sauce on top of the vegetables and fold the pancake over like an omelet. Put some more sauce on top and serve.


And that's what's been cooking in my kitchen this week.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Other One Can Stay, Too

Sure, they both forgot to throw away their ice cream sandwich wrappers tonight after dessert. But they did cook themselves dinner and they ran the dishwasher.

On top of it MacTroll has been really awesome lately. Every time I get in my car, I swear at myself for forgetting (or being to lazy) to get gas. And, like magic, he's filled the tank at some point.

X-man is reliving some monster fears at bedtime, and MacTroll lays with him every night to calm him down.

We're going to San José in a couple of weeks to neighborhood shop. (Remind me to call the schools to get tours while we're there.) The other day and a half we were going to wander around and check out things in the area like Muir Woods.

MacTroll had wanted to go to Half Moon Bay, but then when he was looking at lodging, he realized the Ritz resort everyone had told him about was $500 per night. He told me I was worth it. I said -- I thought he was insane. So he kept looking.

Yesterday, he sat down with my Vegetarian Times magazine and read it. Then he promptly pitched me the idea of staying at a Vegan Resort north of San Francisco that was featured in the magazine called Stanford Inn by the Sea. That's right... the meat and potatoes guy who gags at most green vegetables pitched it to me. I nodded that it sounded fun. So, he booked it today.

This is the first time in 20 years that MacTroll has taken on full responsibility for booking a vacation. Minus the trip we took to Jamaica where he found the hot travel agent who just took his credit card number and delivered us tickets.

It feels special. It makes me feel special. And that's kind of a nice thing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I think I'll keep him

Today was an experiment day. X-man has been complaining lately that we don't listen and that we just boss him around. It's hard for him to understand that that's the only perk of parenthood... :-)

Anyway, so we made an agreement. On New Year's Day, from midnight until 7 p.m. (bath time), MacTroll and I wouldn't tell him he couldn't do something UNLESS it was a safety issue.

Know what he spent the day doing without complaint? Helping me set up metal shelves in the basement storage room, reorganizing toys in his room and the downstairs play room and -- vacuuming.

Okay, the pictures are when he did it on Friday... but seriously, he did it twice this weekend. (We have three cats, a dog and two messy males in my house... so, yeah, we vacuum a lot. And yes, that is the Dyson Animal.) He even gets under the couch!

It's his favorite chore. I think mostly because he knows I won't "accidentally" vacuum up any stray Legos if he's the one down on his hands and knees doing the work.

Sure, we also played the Game of Life (his favorite board game) and we made stuff out of air dry clay and painted it... and painted a few paintings. But most of the day he was pretty self sufficient doing whatever he wanted to do while MacTroll and I got some chores done around the house.

We also all sat down and finally watched the first episode of a TV show we got from Netflix DVD that came at the beginning of December. (Whoops!) It was the first season of Different Strokes. I love Mrs. Garrett. I totally remember why she got the gig on the spin off Facts of Life.

2012, 2012, 20, 20, 20, 2012!

Historically, I have not been a fan of New Year's. But in the last few years, I've been coming around on New Year's... and celebrating my birthday. 

Last night we got the best of both worlds when we got to visit the Freak house and hang out with our buds for a couple hours before coming home and heading down to our GwenTen's house. Both parties were lovely, and it was good to see everyone. 

I thought I was going to get pretty seriously happy (i.e. have more than two drinks), but since I spaced my three drinks over 5 hours, there were no serious side effects. And Mrs. GwenTen is an expert margarita maker. She has the whole hood hooked. 

But this morning, I've reached the end of my ability to "lay like broccoli." We've been just hanging out, pretty much this whole winter vacation. And while I like the extra sleep and the comfort of my fuzzy pajama bottoms, I've had enough. 

Plus, even though it's stupid warm outside, the wind kicked up last night. It was whacking into the house around 4 a.m. and it woke me up. Then it woke up Lily, and MacTroll and I took turns dealing with her morning neuroses. :-) 

So, now that my breakfast has been consumed, I'm off to get into some warm clothes to get out there and  walk lily. She and I are going 5 miles today... because it's the start of my workout plan from my trainer. I now have workouts to do six days a week. It makes me feel better. But it also means I have to get better at time management. 

I also have $50 at REI to spend, and I'm having trouble deciding what to get... There are so many things. that I want. Guess I'll have to think about it!