Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I am so tremendously sleepy today. KTDID and I were going to weed around the fence for the painters coming on Saturday... but, um, it's hot. And dry. And I should probably water the ground first -- for like 12 hours, so I can actually pull the roots up on the weeds.

I really just want to take a nap.

Tonight we're heading downtown to the Jane Addams bookstore for the Where's Waldo party. I'm hoping X-man will win one of the prizes, but we'll see. If not, he'll at least get dinner at 301 Mongolia and maybe even his picture taken with Waldo.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

We Could Use Some Hugs Around Here

This morning X-man and I drove out to Clinton Lake to meet up with Lavender Lemonade and her family. The water level was insanely low. I know I had read an article in the News-Gazette about it, but it was still weird to see the first three buoys in the swim area resting on what used to be a foot or more of water. As it was, we didn't have to really worry much about the kids going too deep. Early Bird could even walk out to the end of the swim area without it going above her waist! Our families have been going to Clinton Lake every summer since X-man was one. I tried not to focus on the fact that this might be our last beach trip with them. We had fun and our kids got along very well. It was a lovely 3 hours. Plus, LL invited me to try out her book club, which was really very nice.

When we got back home, I took a nap and X-man watched the Monopoly documentary for the third time this weekend (no lie). After I got up, I showered and we took our vegetables and a store bought cherry pie over to Banbury for a farewell to the Supers party.

In a sea of free food that was mostly covered in cheese or sugar, I managed to only eat zero point fruit and vegetable options. I went home at one point to give Maya some medicine and eat my own veggie sausage and then returned. We were there from 5-8:30 p.m.

What was really lovely, was that one of the moms there came outside and complimented X-man on how well he was playing with her almost 4 year old. I smiled. It was nice being at a party with people and not having to worry about him, because he was pretty much the oldest child there, and he is a dream with smaller children.

When we said goodbye to the Supers, Shanna made sure to remind me that they're in Danville at her parents for the next 10 days or so. So she promised to text when they were in town to see if we wanted to get together. But it didn't matter... we were walking home and as soon as we reached their fence, I started to cry. X-man, as always, was 1/2 block behind, so he didn't see, and I managed to get it under control by the time I got into the garage. But so many people whose babies grew up with my baby aren't really in my life any more. It was such an important part of my life as a mother and losing the Supers and Libbygirl at the same time has pretty much knocked me on my ass emotionally.

When we got home, I tried to give Maya some food to eat on her own. She refused, but then she started sniffing around the pet treat jar. I opened it up and took out the feline greenies and dropped one on the counter top. She jumped on it like she was starving. I tried to be tricky and sprinkle them into the wet food. No dice. I tried the dry food. No dice. But alone, she was ravenous for them. When she was done, I force fed her and made sure she was medicated for the night.

I finished the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. I fed Clawdio and Luke their wet food and let the dog in and out 14 times (she had a treat she couldn't decide if she wanted to eat or bury in X-man's sandbox).

Meanwhile, X-man chilled out watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix. Then he went upstairs and brushed his teeth. I came upstairs and he climbed into bed. He started crying. I asked what was wrong. He said he didn't want new neighbors. He wanted the Supers to always be our neighbors, because he didn't remember what life was like without Chloe across the street. I told him that even though they weren't our neighbors any more, they would always be our friends.

He nodded. And then his face curled up and he told me he was sad because he doesn't want to die. He started asking questions about what happens when we die. He asked if he'd ever be able to live again or if he could watch what was happening in the world. We talked about reincarnation. We talked about the idea of heaven. He asked me what I thought. I told him that I thought people died and were gone but who they were lived on in the hearts of the people that loved them. He said he wanted to die and come back as a boy with dark hair and blue eyes. I asked if I'd get to be his mother again. He started sobbing and shook his head no. This made me cry.

We wiped our eyes and noses on some Kleenex and instead talked about good things, like what we like about each other. I stressed his kindness to others and his need to try to find compromise even when other children refused to listen. I complimented how smart and curious he is. He told me he liked me more than everything. That was nice to hear.

I think we both had a hard day, and really needed some sleep. It's almost midnight and I'm still up, but he fell asleep several hours ago... on MacTroll's side of the bed, with a 1-year-old dog curled up next to him.

Me, I'm sitting here with a Maya cat on my head. (She likes me to wear her like she's a big Russian fur hat.) But she's purring, and she chose to eat something on her own for the first time in two weeks, so, you know that was a big step in the right direction.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Change Up -- Sort of

Carle Weight Management closed last week, and I had been looking around for a program that would help hold me accountable, but not be quite so hospital driven. I've been doing a lot of cooking on my own, which is good (when it's dinners) and which is not so good (when it's cookies). It's not that everything doesn't taste fine, it's that I consume a lot more when desserts are in my house.

So, I needed to implement some environmental controls. I needed to take a look at what was in my cupboards and recognize that if there is a container of honey, I will devour it a tablespoon at a time on a LOAF of bakery bread in 14.2 seconds. If the honey isn't in the house. I don't touch MacTroll's bread. (Hence the reason I could never be vegan.) Anyway, you know you've hit rock bottom and that you have a trigger food when you're putting tablespoon after tablespoon on top of some lame 35 calorie Healthy Life wheat bread... and you've eaten 5 pieces because it's not feeding you want you want. But you also know that you can't dish out what you want, because you'd totally slam that entire loaf, which is a lot more than 175 calories total.

It's like if you use a lot of substitutes, you forget what the real thing tastes like. And the next time you reintroduce it, it's like having an orgasm. Food hits some very passionate parts of me, and it's been hard over the last few years recognizing that those emotional wants don't die out, just because you deny them for 9 short months. They stick around for when life hits you with mega change. And then you realize that in the most ideal situation, you were able to conquer the food cravings. But in a harder life situation, you caved -- some times. And it was enough not to gain it all back but to gain enough of it back that you're within 10 lbs of losing your Onederland status.

I didn't realize it had gotten that bad until today, when I showed up for the 7:30 a.m. Weight Watchers meeting. It's odd, really, being a person who has lost a ton of weight and showing up in a class where almost no one outside the leader has gone past the 10 percent mark. I kept that information to myself. I didn't learn anything new, but I did have someone weigh me, and I did recognize that feeling of wanting to do well versus beating myself up for messing up and then promising to start all over again the next day.

It helps when your leader was a WW drop out around 10 times before it finally clicked and she was successful. She's been keeping her weight off as long as I've been keeping the majority of my weight off. I have questions I want to ask her when I'm more comfortable. 

I'm going to probably switch to the Sunday 8:30 a.m. class down the road, just simply because I like not having to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to get there at 7:30 a.m. It's a bummer that the meeting place moved to the opposite end of town, but I'll live. I just can't walk or bike over the interstate overpass. I'm not comfortable with that.

I checked out their oatmeal because it was on sale, but when I saw that it had 39 percent fiber based on the added chicory root (inulin), I put it back. Holy cow, I would be passing gas all day long. I loved the HMR oatmeal, mostly because it had 60 percent of my day's worth of iron, and as a girl who can't ever have enough iron...I think I may order some packages online.

So, here I am with 25 lbs to get back off. It'll be interesting since I'm scheduled to have my surgery on both of the peroneal tendons in my right foot on Sept. 13, am force feeding a cat 4 times a day, have X-man underfoot for another month and am traveling twice, including a 3-day journey to Montreal. But I went with the plan that is the least restrictive about what goes into my mouth... so the choices regarding nutrition are entirely left up to me.

Okay, I'm wandering downstairs to cook some peas, carrots and tempeh with miso-almond sauce, which according to the recipe builder at Weight Watchers is 8 points per serving. It feels weird after dividing everything up into calories based on carbs, protein and fats on Loseit to suddenly just use these program numbers which are based on the same information (and fiber), but not really know what it means. I guess in a while it will be like visiting Canada. I can't remember how to convert the weather from F to C, but I know what the temperatures feel like when I'm there, so I don't leave unprepared for the weather.

The other odd part about this, is that I feel like I'm doing it by myself this time. Last time, I had a whole group of folks going about the same quest, except we all had much bigger numbers to lose. I don't feel quite as desperate this time. It's not all or nothing. It's just a kind of continual goal. It'll get there when it's ready to get there, and not a moment sooner. But I guess that's how life is working these days... Maya... California...Food... It'll turn out the way it'll turn out and all you can do is prepare, plan, execute and hope for the best.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bad News/Good News of Thursday

The Bad News

During dinner time on Thursday, I got a call from our vet. All of Maya's blood work and vomit analysis came back. And, of course, we know she has fatty liver disease, which is treatable. But her bloodwork came back showing severe intestinal problems. It could just be an infection due to IBD or it could be intestinal cancer. The only way to know would be to spend the money to biopsy, which we won't do because it's fairly traumatic for an elderly cat and she's already anemic. She has a bacterial infection that we found in the vomit. She's also not absorbing folate, so I need to go pick up some today at the pharmacy to add into her daily regime.

I'm force feeding her four times a day. In the a.m. when we first get up, I give her a Denosyl tablet on an empty stomach. I wait until 8 or 8:30 a.m. and then I give her a half a tab of Clavamox and then do her first force feeding which features 30-50ml of prescription AD food with some lactulose mixed in. Then I feed her every 3 hours after that with a varying amount of medicines  mixed in. When I had to do with with Clawdio 8 years ago, he was a mess about it. I'd have to hunt him down under the bed or in hiding places. I'm pretty sure he and I spent 3 weeks in tears. But he's still alive and doing well. Maya, being the laid back cat she is, just sits there and takes it and never hides.

What I can hope is that I'm able to get her fatty liver disease and bacteria infection under control through the feedings and that in the next 2-4 weeks she will begin to eat by herself. If that happens, then we can put her on a steroid to help with the IBD. The worst meds we give her are a liquid antibiotic that she gets twice a day to help fight the bacterial infection. It makes her foam at the mouth. Dr. Mary recommended that I clean her up and then feed her to help get the yucky taste out of her mouth.

So, we're treating what we know we can treat, because the truth is that if she has intestinal cancer, there's nothing we could do about it any way. Animals, for the most part, don't usually survive very long after cancer treatment that works on humans. I learned this when I researched various types last summer when Riley got diagnosed. Her X-rays don't show any masses. So we're going to hope it's just IBD with liver issues and we'll solve them and she'll move forward. She had a very hard life before she came to live with us 10 years ago. But it's really hard to think of a life without our "Big Fluffy."

The Good News

Last night X-man had his last play date with our neighbor. We took her over to Sholem, where mothers stood about in the shallows complaining that the water was cold. I totally understood what they were saying, even though I knew the water had to be at least 80 degrees. Funny how after 5 weeks of 100 plus temperatures, 85 degrees outside feels "chilly." Thus the 80 degree pool is still "refreshing" rather than like lukewarm bathwater.

The kids had fun, and X-man wandered into a pretty much all-girl Carrie Busey night at the pool. There were some neighbors going into second grade, a couple going into first with him and they were all there. He and a kindergarten friend and Super Chloe went up and down the slides together. They "water danced." They tossed a wet football with the CB friend's little brother. We went down the raft slide and around the lazy river together. It was a great hour and a half. And X-man didn't want it to end. He walked as slowly as possible to the car. He said, "We have another 10 minutes before we get home, Mom, what can we do with Chloe until then?" It was very, very sweet. And can I say how much I love the fact that my son loved playing with the girls? He did tell me his pink and red toenail polish was chipping off and needed to be fixed up. So we'll get on that this weekend. We also gave Chloe and Ella a bag of gifts from Target that they can open every hour or so (or when they're driving Super Shanna crazy) on the 13-hour drive. In it is nothing that can melt or has small pieces. We got the idea from my aunt when X-man was two and we drove out to Baltimore. It worked really well. So I hope the girls like it.

In other good news, X-man wanted to wait up after his shower for his father to get home. MacTroll's plane was due at 9:20 p.m., so I said okay. I turned on Netflix while he was putting on his jammies and I chose a documentary on Monopoly, where we learned all kinds of fun things about X-man's favorite board game... including the fact that there is an outdoor giant monopoly game that you can play:

It's in a park, and you have to rent the pieces and costumes from the park district. But as it turns out... it's in San José, California! X-man said, "In California, can I have my birthday parties outside?" (His brain is so totally thinking about all the things we've talked about for the last few weeks.)

"Most likely, yes."

"Then I think that would be a GREAT birthday party!"


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Political Animals

I stayed up late (i.e. midnight) last night watching a new show that I'd read about in the paper called Political Animals. I have no idea what network its on, but it stars Sigourney Weaver as a presidential hopeful who loses and becomes the Secretary of State (mmm, I wonder who she was based off of)... and then decides after two years of watching the democrat who beat her flounder that she's going to run again. 

The pilot episode is available from the iTunes store for free. It was less mellow dramatic than when Geena Davis played the president, but not as fast paced and smart as the West Wing.

What I liked most about it was the play between the Secretary of State and the "Washington Globe" reporter covering her. I liked the political savviness. I liked how the characters dealt with being in a Kennedy-like establishment of a family, and I liked the realness that the people acknowledge to each other, but don't want the American people to know about. 

Greg Berlanti is the executive producer and writer on the show. And although I couldn't stand his version of the Green Lantern movie, he did get his writing start at the WB on Dawson's Creek with other pit stops for shows I've never seen like Eli Stone, Brothers and Sisters, Everwood.

Anyway, it's a mini-series (who knew those existed any more outside of the BBC), so I bought it and watched the second show. It, too, kept me awake and my brain engaged. 

At least more engaged than the whack jobs calling my house wanting my vote in November. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Today, X-man had a little accident.

He was at baseball camp at Savoy Recreation Center riding on the flat, four-wheeled scooters, you know the kind you had in gym class way back in the day, when someone crashed into him causing him to face plant into the floor and into his own scooter.

When I picked him up today he had a golfball sized bruise on his forehead with a small cut, another marble sized bruise on the other side of his forehead and a small scratch on his eye lid.

He seemed okay, but we took him to Convenient Care anyway, just so he could have someone tell me that he wasn't concussed.

While we were there, they had the CBS news on about the Aurora movie theater shooting. We told X-man what happened when he asked about the TV in St. Louis over the weekend running names, ages and photos of the victims, but we don't have live TV at home, so he hasn't heard any of the descriptions of what happened.

In X-man's brain, this guy has made the crazy violence of the Joker a reality and at the same time as he knows super heroes are fiction. It's hard for him to believe that someone can do something as dire as shoot up a movie theater full of people... but that no actual Batman exists to show up to stop him. It makes him sad.

So, when the news channel was on, he asked if we could change it. I got up to do something about it, but I guess they have the TV wired only to the remote (or the buttons were all broken). After a minute or two of hearing X-man say, "Don't they know kids come here? This is scary. Please get it off!" A woman came around from the desk and turned the channel to PBSkids. And at the exact moment the Wubszy guy game on, X-man got called into see the triage nurse.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Clawdio, Luke and Maya

I just had all three cats at the vet and only two of them got to come home with me.

Clawdio, who will turn 15 in October, got a check up and his vaccinations. He's really in tip top condition.

Luke, who was diagnosed with pancreatitis in the spring and has developed a grain allergy, is doing wonderfully. He's holding his weight at about 12.5 lbs, which is a wonderful weight for him in his senior years. He's 12 years old and living large on the fancy ass cat food we've been buying. (Clawdio also made the change to grain free quite successfully.)

Our hold out is Maya. Maya, age 11, has fatty liver disease and her glucose levels and white blood cells are up. We're also still waiting on blood work to rule out any autoimmune diseases. She's lost weight quite suddenly and appetite stimulant shots/anti-nausea shots haven't helped her regain any of the weight. In fact, our "big fuzzy" is only 8.2 lbs. And she's supposed to be 11.

So, Maya is spending today in the hospital. MacTroll will go back to get her tonight and then tomorrow I'll take her back at 7:30 a.m. They've got her on fluid nutrients right now. They also started force feeding her prescription AD food and giving her her meds to treat the liver issue. We're watching her glucose numbers like a hawk, too.

Tomorrow morning before I take her back, I'll be giving her Denosyl on an empty stomach. Once we know she's stable with the feeding, I'll be able to force feed her at home.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Too Much Togetherness

Holy cow am I ready for X-man to go to Baseball camp tomorrow!

I think we're getting to that point where there are only 4 weeks left of summer, and I'm ready to go school supply shopping and send him back. Because I can get nothing done when the boy is home. If he was a TV junkie, this would not be a problem. But he's not. And when I have a project, bless him, he always wants to help. Having him help, of course, slows everything down to a snail's pace, and it's hard to make him understand that if I can get my stuff done, I can play or take him somewhere cool.

Tomorrow night at 6 p.m. we're headed over to Sholem to meet up with his best buddy from kindergarten. I'm not sure when they're moving to Dunlap, so I have to see if this is their last play date or not.

But you can tell I've had enough because I'm baking chocolate chip cookies and I had a Matilda with dinner.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On the Move Again

Since we got back on Thursday morning, I felt like I haven't worked out at all. Maybe because I haven't really put on clothes and gone out for a six-mile walk nor have I gone to do a strength workout where I leave my child in the childcare room at the Y.

MacTroll reminded me this morning that I did play volleyball on Thursday night. (Oh yeah... but maybe because we lost the championship and I felt like I stood around watching us not be able to return a specific girl's serves, it didn't feel much like a workout.)

Last night I met up with the rotary folks while they played a short 9-hole golf course out at Legends. Holy cow is that set of greens totally torn to shit. I specifically didn't wear "golfing acceptable clothes" because I was just there to socialize and go out for a drink after. But where as most everyone else drove a cart, I walked all nine holes. Was it slow, yes it was. But I did it. And I did it with no pain, so that's a workout, right? Maybe I should have worn my weighted vest. :-)

Today, I took Lily out for a 30-minute stroll around the neighborhood. She was going bonkers this morning because I had to move Maya into the spare guest room. She's getting worse and not better. The appetite stimulus shots don't seem to be working. I took her in yesterday for uber fancy bloodwork that will get returned with results on Tuesday. I've offered her every kind of food. I'm taking the boys in for their check ups on Monday, so I think I'll be picking up a giant syringe and starting to force feed her at that point. It's a messy job, but I did it with Clawdio and I think it ended up saving his life 7 years ago.

KTDID is doing me a ginormous favor and coming to spend the night with them tonight while MacTroll, X-man and I go to St. Louis to the Cubs/Cardinals game and then to the zoo tomorrow morning. We'll be back by 4 p.m. or so.

X-man and I are scheduled to go to Rockford next week, but I'm worried about Maya. I'll have to see how she's doing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ignoring Heartbreak

In April 2007, I met Libbygirl and Lightning McColin at a CARE meet up. X-man was 13 months old, and I was totally gun shy of mom groups after having some scary experiences at two others in town. But my slobbery giant blonde boy fit in really well with her smiley, boy-who-likes-to-run. As an added bonus, I also met Me and My Boys.

Here we are over 5 years later, and today, the boys had their last C-U based play date. We met them over at the Anita Purves Nature Center to do a little scavenger hunt/hike and then played inside before going back to their house to eat our picnic lunch (did anyone else think it might rain this morning?).

After three hours, we all hugged and said goodbye and wished Thunder McGavin a happy fourth birthday. And off we went. I'm trying to pretend that I'm not having a hard time. I just can't imagine not seeing them at the Y pool or out to bowl or doing an absentee-spouse dinner date every few weeks.

But as Libbygirl pointed out, we're both headed to the same coast. And, well, she knows that we have a habit of showing up when we say we're going to show up somewhere. :-) So, maybe instead of meeting up at Curtis Orchard, we'll meet up at Yosemite. Or maybe X-man and I can drive a VW camper bus to Portland? :-)

We're already planning a Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend trip to Dallas to visit the Super Neighbors. But my how the next year will be different without them in our day-to-day lives. We will miss them terribly.

Thank goodness for FaceTime!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Five Days of Posting in One -- Yikes.

Last Friday, MacTroll and I took X-man to California to check out the area and to give him an idea of how kid-friendly California will be when we move. It was a whirlwind tour, but it was a lot of fun -- except for the travel home. But I'll save that for last.

The first day we drove from San José to San Francisco. It's about an hour-long commute. I learned that there are two primary highways. The 101, which is cement wall to cement wall with crappy constant jackass commuters that move 1/2 inch at a time, except for the motorcycles which weave at 80 mph between the miserable cars or you can choose the 280, which is undeveloped because it runs by the main water source for San Francisco. We chose option B. Might not be as direct, but there were a lot less cars on it. Except, I realized that although I had prepared X-man for the 65 degree weather that is San Francisco in the summer, I had forgotten my own jacket at home in the rush to get everything in the car.

We were stopping on our way into the city at a restaurant called The Counter. It's a custom burger place that also serves vegan burgers. It was right next to the mall we were going to take X-man to the Lego store at some point, so we decided while I needed a sweatshirt, we might as well stop there, too.

I have only really nice things to say about the San José Westfield Valley Fair Mall, particularly the Lego people and the folks in the sportswear department at Nordstrom's. They were all very good with X-man and very helpful. Then we drove into the city. The original plan was to go to the beach, but since it was 45 degrees colder than it was at home when we got there, we just hung out in the W and played with Legos. They also had a free 1981 video game table next to the bar where we played Ms. Pac-man, 1941 and Galaga. :-) We also watched the SF Giants beat the Houston Astros on TV.

The next morning, I had X-man dressed from head to toe, but it was still 55 degrees as we walked one block down to The Grove for breakfast. The Grove is a pretty sweet place. I notice a theme of California restaurants using trees or driftwood as decoration everywhere. The woman who opened the Big Grove Tavern in Champaign used to work at the Thirstybear across the street from the W. She brought the driftwood element with her to Champaign. :-)

Anyway, we ordered X some bacon and a croissant and a freshly squeezed OJ (which he found very cool to watch). I got an egg white omelet and MacTroll got some egg bake thing. We went up and sat at a breakfast bar overlooking the restaurant a little after 9 a.m. and then people started piling in for breakfast. The people watching was fascinating. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and got in the car and went to the Exploratorium. I had taken X-man there when he was three and found it very small child unfriendly. I would say that assessment still holds true for pre-schoolers. However, it really was pretty good for him now, but I did have to read a lot of things too him. He understood most of the science behind the exhibits and was constantly asking questions. It's a very hands on place that is moving to a new location on the docks in 2013.

He was sad when we left, but we had to get some food in him, so we went to this hole in the wall called Underdog near Golden Gate Park where we were going to meet his cousins at the Koret Children's Quarter for a play date. The amount of time to get from the Exploratorium to the restaurant was ridiculous. 1) Because MacTroll took off driving in a direction before I got the GPS situated and we ended up in the stop and go traffic heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge. X-man was freaking out that we were lost and going to have to pay to cross the bridge. But we caught the last exit at the Presidio and I guided us back. Once we were in Golden Gate Park it was stop and go traffic again -- for 45 minutes just to get from one end of the park to the other. It was a mess. And it was a shitty, crappy, windy, cloudy cold day. Parking was impossible and I was feeling my blood pressure rise as my sugar levels dropped. People make me cranky. So glad we're not living in SF.

As it turned out though, the hot dog place was awesome. On the wall they had a poster with new "rock, scissor, paper" ideas, which is awesome, because we've been playing, "Rock, Scissors, Paper, Anything" now for over a year. X-man was fascinated with how the new 25 different characters could take on each other. He was particularly excited that Monkey defeated Man (and Woman) by flinging poop at them. :-) Underdog had organic fed beef dogs as well as vegan options. We just had to ignore the fact that paying a meter is $2 for an hour.

After lunch, we went to the park. We had purchased X-man a balloon launcher at the Exploratorium, and his cousins were running late, so we played with the balloons for a little while.

Then we went over to the playground, where the first thing X-man did was get soaking wet in the sleeves and pants in the sand and water area. But since the place was huge and a lot of fun, he didn't notice. He loved the park the last time we were there (we ended up visiting twice) and this time was no difference. He spent most of his time on the cement slides again, but he was also big enough to go on the massive rope climber and to find a friend to "cook" with in the sand and water.

After three hours, he was spent. We got him back to the hotel room and put him in a warm shower and then took him down to the hotel restaurant (which didn't have a kids menu but said, "We'll make him anything he wants") and fed him a grilled cheese sandwich, corn soup and some strawberries. Afterwards, we played in the hotel pool.

On Sunday, we got up and X-man asked to go to the Grove again, so we did. :-) Then we got in the car and we drove back down to San José. MacTroll took the 101 this time, because he figured it wouldn't be too awful on a Sunday morning. It wasn't stop and go, but it wasn't pretty either. When we got to San José, we drove X-man around the neighborhood we're looking to live in called Willow Glen. We took him by the elementary school, by some houses and then we took him to a place called Psycho Donuts (we called this lunch) in Campbell the town next to Willow Glen. "Look at the eyeballs in the windows!" X-man was very excited. He chose a Cereal Killer donut. Every day they have a vegan donut option, but I went with a Rocky Road to Hell.

After Donuts, we checked into the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown San José. Two years ago, I thought it was a weird place, and I still do. If you're a tourist, you're conveniently located next to the highways. You can walk to the Children's Museum and an art museum and a Tech Museum. But if you want to go for a walk, you're stuck stopping at the street lights every block -- or a trail system where people advise you to travel in groups and to have a mountain bike because the trail from downtown to the Airport isn't finished and turns to gravel and has camps of homeless people living under it. The scientologists were also out giving stress tests...

Anyway, I met with Sara Greenwood, our California-based, realtor and went out for coffee at the Starbuck's at Willow Glen and then we went to a couple open houses for two houses that I marked as "favorites" in her search software. It was fun to get to know her. Her daughter is going into second grade at the public school we're hoping X-man goes to. The one thing I love about Willow Glen (even though it's in the middle of San José) is that it's quiet and easy to walk. No traffic in the neighborhoods and the Main Street is a lot of fun. I'm basically going to try to figure out a way where I don't have to drive to most things. I'm even thinking of investing in one of those wire carts to push my groceries in.

House 1) was overpriced for what they were asking for, and they made some interesting choices regarding trying to fix the place up to put it on the market (like waffle textured carpeting upstairs) and what looked like a sky light in the kitchen was actually florescent. So, it's nice to see these things up close. The second house was a rehab job. They took a two bedroom one bathroom house and expanded it 900 square feet. They did a lovely job, but it didn't feel cozy, even though it was small. The street it is on is transitional, so there was an eye sore across the street. But we still have to sell our house before I have to worry about finding a house. But I did get a good idea of what a house that's $1.5 million should look like versus a $1.2 versus a $875,000... And I NEVER thought I'd say those words.

While I was with Sara, the boys went to the Tech Museum. When I returned we wandered down to Los Gatos. This is the city where a lot of Apple people told MacTroll we should live. We went to a Beatles Tribute concert that wasn't -- kid friendly. IT was a small park that was wall to wall people. There was no sitting room. MacTroll couldn't find his friend for 45 minutes, so X-man went off and played with some kids in an empty fountain. Seriously, you couldn't put a playground there, LG?

Anyway, the traffic was a mess. Parking was a mess. X-man was miserable. We lasted 30 minutes once MacTroll found his friend before we left.

On Monday morning, we took X-man to the Fruit to see where MacTroll works. I hadn't been there in -- a long time -- but campus had grown in size and become -- less fun. The sand volleyball court was gone and the cafeteria was so crazy overcrowded that we bailed on our idea of lunch and ate at Subway down the street. MacTroll also seemed a bit tense, and he forbid me from taking photos within the door of the building, which seemed jacked up considering what kind of company they are. Anyway, what I will tell you is that X-man found some of the art in the lobby fascinating. It was a table made up of 120 iPads. All of the apps ever created were color coated by design of their logo and were traveling across the table like a big wave of red, blue, green, etc. You could tap a logo and it would tell you what countries that app was most sold in and other info about it. X-man spent literally 20 minutes playing with it. Outside the gates is the campus store, so we went in there. X-man was afraid there wouldn't be any kids -- but it was filled with children of Fruit employees for some reason that day. He played with the store iPad for a little while, too. I ended up buying a second sweatshirt because some small person rubbed his greasy bacon fingers all over my shirt the other day at breakfast. :-)

 Plus, we got to recycle the 4 Fruit-owned laptops we had uselessly sitting around our house on campus.

Since X-man had had back to back not so child friendly experiences, I decided that we should head out to the ocean to Santa Cruz. We all purchased wristbands at the board walk and road amusement park rides for 3-4 hours that day.

After the board walk, we ate dinner at Pizza My Heart in Willow Glen. It was a really quiet Monday night downtown, so lots of stores were closed because it was around 7 p.m. by the time we got there. X-man wasn't crazy about their pepperoni, but he was excited about his surprise. We walked three blocks down to Powell's Sweet Shop, where they have almost every kind of candy you could imagine. It was awesome. They have five old movie theater seats in the back of the store in front of a TV that I'm pretty sure plays Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on a continuous loop.

On Tuesday, MacTroll had to go to work, so we tried a place for breakfast in Campbell called Green Bites Café. It's vegetarian/vegan friendly, too, and it had S'mores crepes for X-man. He consumed a large fruit cup of melon and then breakfast was served. You should have seen his eyes bugger out of his head at the number of marshmallows. Dutifully, MacTroll and I helped him finish them. But they were really yummy and the whole place was very reasonably price, so we'll be back there, for sure. Mactroll and I had both ordered boring egg and veggie sausage sandwiches. What were we thinking?

X-man and I walked to the children's museum, where we made new friends waiting for the museum to open. They just relocated to SJ/LG 4 weeks ago from Austin, Texas. The mom was on her own (an engineering widow). She worked in early childhood education and has two children ages almost 5 and 7. We went through the museum together for 3 hours until X-man couldn't bear not being in the pizza kitchen/market area and her kids were hip to do crafts. So we exchanged e-mails and cell numbers, and promised to stay in touch. She grew up in California, but totally understands the freak out over the move.

After the museum, X-man needed some downtime. We ended up watching the Food Network. X-man was fascinated by Cupcake Wars and Chopped. Two hours later, we went down to the hotel pool where we were the only ones in it. Unlike SF, SJ is at least 15-20 degrees warmer. So it was 79 degrees outside when we got in the heated pool. We played for an hour, before it looked like a conference was going to have a private party at the pool. We got ready to go upstairs and as we're walking toward the door to the hotel, a woman walked out and before I could stop myself the name, "Holly?" came out of it.

She looked at me not knowing who I was. I told her my name and the Millikin connection and she totally freaked out. She lives in Arizona now. We talked for a few minutes before X-man was cold and needed to keep going. But it is a small world.

On Wednesday, X-man and I flew home. The taxi ride from the hotel to the airport was REALLY easy. Security was awesome. We got lunch and boarded the plane and had a simple ride back to Chicago... where storms hit and we were stuck. X-man at least got to eat McDonald's... which made his day, even if it was on the floor of the airport.

Our 8:50 p.m. flight to Champaign kept getting pushed back every 15 minutes while there was a ground stop for lightning. Had they said, it's gonna be a couple hours, I would have at least taken X-man to the playground, but since it was changing so frequently, I made us stay put. I found a bench near our gate, so he could lie down, but he couldn't figure that out in such a stimulating place. Finally at 12:30 a.m. we were allowed onto the jet bridge. But the plane was hot from sitting, so we all had to stand for 20 minutes on the jet bridge. Then we got a pilot and a co-pilot (good things) and then we boarded. We taxied out to the runway... and then we sat there until 2:45 in the morning. Where they decided to reroute us to Moline and then bring us in behind the storms through Peoria to Champaign. We had to wait again until they were sure we had enough gas, and then we took off.

We landed at about 3:30 a.m. No lie. In the words of MacTroll, "They REALLY want you to get to Champaign tonight."

And then we were woken up 4 hours later by Concrete Evolutions pouring our new patio in the backyard. So, if you see me today, I'm a wreck. We stayed in bed until 11 a.m., but I wasn't sleeping. More like just lying there with my eyes shut. X-man woke up at 9:30 a.m. and wouldn't leave me for anything. He just kept touching me with his feet and making mouth noises. "But I love you, I don't want to be away from you." Grrr.

On the plus side, the concrete is done being poured in the backyard. They'll need to cut into it and then do the design and seal the sucker before we walk on it. But it's there. That only took a year...

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Okay, I am not the greatest volleyball player in the world, but I love to play. I prefer sand over court because I like to dive, and I don't bruise as much on sand. Our team, the Blockheads, is now 5-1. We're tied for first place in the 8-team league. And we're beating six teams of lawyers (i.e. law students), so that makes me feel good, too. :-)

We played a tough three games tonight and came out with a big win. It is so much more fun when the games are evenly matched and challenging than when we just stand there watching service errors (that was Tuesday's match).

Anyway, I've had a ball. I hope when my foot is better, I can totally go back to it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Boys and Guns

I hate guns. I do. I think they're entirely unnecessary outside of the military and law enforcement. I get there's a second amendment, but really, I'd like it better if no one was armed.

Guns = power. Those that have guns have the power. Those that don't -- are weak. And up until this year, I've managed to keep X-man happy with just his renaissance fair bow and arrow (somebody hand made it out of bamboo and then made 3" padded pillows at the ends.) They were declared a basement or outdoor toy.

But this year, he's been way into guns. He sees guns, any gun at any play date and immediately picks it up and says things like, "I am a bad guy. This is a stick up!" Or my favorite, "I'm going to kill you." Seriously, even the revolver from a Clue game.

Now, I know this is all part of normal development and play. It's just the way some kids are. They navigate the whole good/bad spectrum this way. And X-man is good if he notices someone getting upset with saying, "No one is a bad guy! Let's go hunt an imaginary bad guy down."

And yes, I get that he's too young to understand that vigilante justice -- isn't really justice.

But I hate it.

Today at a play date with two new friends, brothers, we went to their community's swimming pool. There a band of boys (most of them in 4-6th grade) had mega sized super soakers. X-man asked if he could play with one. The boys said yes. Then as he engaged them in "war"over the next 20 minutes they decided that they were going to gang up on him. Then they took the gun they said he could have and replaced it with a lame one with 1/45th of the spray power to make him weaker.

Now, please note that these were NOT the boys we were there to play with. And for a while the new friends got tired of how crappy the big boys were being (after they used kick boards to shield X-man like awesome friends), and were happy to go lie out on their towels. X-man was not deterred. There were, after all, guns to be played with!

I called him out and asked what was going on. He told me that the other boys weren't being nice. I told him he wasn't in trouble, but that I didn't like how those boys were talking to him and treating him. He was negotiating, using his nice words, telling them that they made him uncomfortable and that he didn't like having the guns pointed at his face. And couldn't they all be on the same team? They kept taunting him, making fun of the fact that I wouldn't let him go in areas over 4' deep. I explained that what they were doing was bullying, and he should play with his nice friends.

But, again, there were guns to play with.

Finally, when they decided to take his "lame" gun away and abandon him entirely, he started crying in the pool. One of the boys' mothers looked up and asked what was going on. I explained that he wanted to play with them, and they were ganging up on him as the new kid. She called the bigger boys over and made them give him a gun to play, but again, when Mom's interfere with big boy dealings, they get embarrassed. No one wants their Mom to tell them who to play with, and they kept their distance from him for the last 10 minutes we were in the pool.

When he got out of the pool to dry off, he looked at me with such sincerity and said, "Mom, I promise, if I can have a water gun, I won't ever shoot you or Lily. I'll water the garden. I'll shoot the fence. But I won't hurt anyone or bully anyone ever."

I told him I'd talk about it with his Dad tonight. I'm not a fan. Guns = power, posturing, violence to me. But watching him try to fit in was difficult, and maybe it's because we had just seen Dr. April, his therapist, but he was doing an OUTSTANDING job of trying to take the high road, especially for a kid who was at least 4 years younger than the big kids.

The other thing that my friend recommended was going over and talking to the other children's parents. I felt at the time that it would only make X-man's embarrassment worse. Plus, I really, was sitting there watching him try to handle it himself. He didn't tattle. He didn't hit. He didn't resort to so many of the things he learned in kindergarten. He really did try to engage them as a big kid, but he also learned that not all kids respond to compromise and discussion, particularly when they know it's their toy and that they get it back just by asking for it. And that was REALLY frustrating for him. He felt that holding onto that gun was the only thing that gave him -- Power. And I learned not to jump in and try to manage everything, even though I really wanted to tell those boys where they could shove their guns.

In the end, X-man said he wanted to go back and just play with his new friends at their house with their toys. I'm hoping that happens, but we also had to have a long talk about how you don't play with bullies and follow their rules just because you want to play with their toys. How having friends without cool toys, who treat you nicely are worth far more than mean boys with guns.

But he wasn't the only one who felt left out, one of the new friends asked if he could go to nerf.com and check out the guns there when we got back to their house. X-man asked if he could do that, too. So, I think all three of them were a bit envious.

Here he is fishing at Dana Colbert Park a couple weeks ago. One of these days, maybe he'll bait his own hook!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I got my six-month follow up blood work results back today. I have "normal" Vitamin D numbers and my Ferritin is holding steady. Sure, they're at the low-end of normal. But I'll totally take that.

I haven't heard back about my hip/back x-ray yet, so I'll call tomorrow and see if the nurse knows anything.

Today, X-man and I had a delightful trip to Miller Park with the neighbors. We played at the spray park from 10 until 11:45 and then we went over to the zoo for a little over an hour. X-man hadn't been there in two years because last year whenever I tried to plan something it was always 65 degrees outside... I got lots of good chat time with Super Shanna, and I got to watch my kid be particularly adorable.

Here's the thing about having a child with an anxiety issue. When he falls apart, I feel like people give me this look. This, "Thank God my child doesn't have that problem" or "There goes X-man freaking out again." People have opinions about everything regarding my parenting (he's spoiled) to what he eats (you shouldn't let him have processed foods). It feels then like his anxiety issue is what every conversation with other parents is about. I'm not gonna lie. When it's rough, it's rough. But hey, we're all doing the best we can. And he's six -- according to the book, "Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant" by Louise Bates Ames at the Gesell Institute of Human Development, my child is pretty much right on the money with where he's supposed to be emotionally. He just needs some things explained in a way he can understand them, some maturity and some practice in social situations to get through the brunt of his issue.

When we got to the water park today, the girls were getting changed into their suits, but X-man was ready to play. So he ran over to the playground, found the two biggest boys and said, "Hi! I'm X-man. Can I play with you guys?"

They put their heads down and didn't say anything.Then they started to walk away.

So he followed them up the rope ladder they were climbing and said. "Whatcha guys playing? Can I play, too -- please?"

The older boy looked at the younger one, who nodded, and then he asked, "Only if you know Marvel superheroes."

X-man smiled this great big smile. "Can I be Wolverine?" The big boy nodded approvingly. Then off they went. Go X-man!

Then, at lunch, X-man was taking his food from me and every thing he touched he looked at me and said, "Will this make E sick?" He loves our friend's daughter who has food allergies. X-man adores E. He treats her like she's his baby sister. And he's very concerned that something might have slipped into the cooler that might make her sick.

I explain that the only thing she can't eat is the bread on his sandwich. He immediately picked it up and moved it as far away from E as possible. Then he helped himself to some of her potato chips. Then he shared his Pirate Booty with the girls. I started listing the ingredients and he said, "And it's Gluten-Free."

I responded by saying, "I don't know if it's gluten free. I don't see any wheat." And then he tells me to turn the package over because it says it's gluten free right on the front. Bravo, X-man. Bravo.

Right before we left the zoo to come home, X-man asked for a drink and a snack. I bought him some water and then he looked at the vending machines. "E can eat Skittles. But I feel like fruit snacks." I said I couldn't tell if they had soy in them, but if we got them and he sat in the back of the car, he should be okay. We bought them, and he immediately turned them over looking for the word, "soy."

I swear, I was ever so proud of him today.

Our team won our volleyball game tonight, so we're 4-1. We have another game on Thursday that X-man wants to go to. KTDID is supposed to be there, too. So he's excited to see me play and see his aunt. "She hasn't been over in like two weeks! And that's like forever!"

Okay, so maybe he's still a bit melodramatic. But come on, he's my kid, after all. :-)

Monday, July 9, 2012


This is totally how a fun summer should be. I got up and made it to my 8 a.m. Deep Water class. Then I went to the coffee shop and had a fruit cup and did some research on Grants that might help the library and finished up the board meeting minutes from July.

Then MacTroll called to say that he volunteered to take the 2 p.m. flight, so he could have lunch with X-man and I. X-man was at the Little Gym for Lights, Camera, Action camp. He was very excited about it and jabbered about it during lunch. We at lunch at Mas Amigos for the first time, where we had Edna, who used to work at El Toro as our server. I'm sure she doesn't remember us, but when we ate out 4 times a week back in the day, we went to the old Toro quite a bit. She was also in some classes with KTDID when she got her master's I believe.

Afterward we dropped MacTroll off and went home. I got to mow the lawn and then a catalog came advertising fancy Halloween costumes. X-man was in love with the idea of us being a family of pirates or him getting the oxygen tank part of the astronaut uniform to go with his uniform downstairs.

I told him he could dress as a pirate for the Storybook parade if they had one, since we read Treasure Island this summer. He liked that idea.

Then we ran some errands, which ended in him getting a mini Strawberry CheeseQuake Blizzard at 5 p.m. So he ate dinner at 7:30 p.m. We call that backwards night.

It wasn't until we were reading books that we both remembered that we had FORGOTTEN t-ball practice. Whoops!

Oh well.

Tomorrow we're heading to Bloomington with the neighbors to go to the spray park. I didn't think X-man would remember going there two years ago with Lightning McColin, but then tonight he said, "I can't wait to play in the pirate ship! He did remember!

It was a pleasant day. I hope every day this week is this way -- and I'm really excited about flying to California as a family on Friday to show X-man around and have some fun in San Francisco and San José.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Photos

Here are some photos from things going on this summer. Lily having a good time. Loosey warming up playing volleyball with her team the Blockheads. X-man warming up at t-ball with his team the Tigers. And our fourth of July sparkler fun. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sweet, I'm a winner!

A while ago, Cooking Light sent me an e-mail (as I'm sure they do to all of their subscribers) asking me to be part of their marketing review panel. It's an online group and they evaluate recipes and take surveys about things in the magazine.

I filled one out about how our house shops and cooks the earlier this year and just got told that I was one of 100 First price (i.e. NOT grand prize) winners. In short, I get $20 from Amazon.com.

Very nice! I'll totally take that. I love surprises. Had I won the grand prize it would have been $100.

I hope everyone had a very safe and fun holiday week!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Yeah, so, I was the class of 94. MacTroll was the class of 93. But we met in 1992 and who the hell thought we'd get 20 years of something good out of what should have been nothing. We pretty much labeled our relationship "Hopeless" because really, who lasts long distance for six years, to live together for two and get married and then pretty much end up living long distance for 38 work weeks out of the month?

Whatever. It's a happy day. We've celebrated by taking my Mom out to breakfast at Le Peep. Then we took an hour bike ride into Urbana and back. Now I'm going to Rotary with my Mom before MacTroll picks up X-man from camp.

Speaking of Rotary... this is me... and my Rotarian friend Jim at the meeting last week. I won "New Rotarian of the Year." I got a plaque. It was super cool.

Tonight, MacTroll and I are going out to dinner with the Super Flynns. They're scheduled to drive away with their cowboy hats and boots into Texas as the end of the month, so we're trying to get in as many play dates as possible -- grown up ones and kids before the move.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Early Mornings

I thought the idea of summer was supposed to be sleeping in, but in order to squeeze in everyone else's stuff, I've been trying to get up early and get my exercise out of the way. Those of you who are used to early mornings will tell me not to whine, but I'm a girl who likes to get up when the clock says 7 a.m. I am at least comforted that it's daylight when I get up. For example, tomorrow, I'll be rising at 5:45 a.m. to try to get out and get my 90-minute walk in (because let's face it, I didn't get a work out in today and yesterday was full of mowing and gardening) before I take X-man to Camp Explosion at 8:30 a.m. and have my physical appointment with my doctor at 9 a.m. (which reminds me I need to find all of my notes from my PT and my MRI to show to her).

I'm staring out the window at some dark clouds and occasional lightning, but at the same time -- I had a feeling it wasn't going to rain (kind of like when it looked like this to the north the other day). So, I'm watering my freaking lawn. I'm hoping, like washing a car, this means it will downpour all night.

I got my hair cut and colored today. It's much darker and I love it. I went back to Kelcey at Spa Envy and she did a beautiful job correcting what was kind of messed up by the lady at the other spa when I won the free cut and color.

My mom is coming to visit for a few days. We're going to go downtown tomorrow while X-man is with Dr. April. And then start working on the Where's Waldo scavenger hunt.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

White versus Color

In the last 24 hours, I've cooked two new recipes that I've really liked, which reminds me I need to enter them into my Lose it app. (I'm running a little bit behind today.)

The first is an Egg and Veggie Salad with Dill Green Goddess Dressing from the Vegetarian Times (July/August). It takes  only 30 minutes to make and looks like a million bucks when you finish. The only troubles I had with it are 1) I couldn't find anywhere in town that carries the orange cauliflower and 2) Meijer used to carry small bags of only purple potatoes last November, but now the only ones I could find were mixed medley ones at Schnuck's (I looked at the three stores I mostly shop at Meijer in Urbana, Schnuck's in Savoy and the Common Ground Food Coop in Urbana)

But it was worth it.

The second I made for breakfast this morning. It's a vegetarian Biscuits and Gravy recipe (April/May 2012 Vegetarian Times) that is also gluten-free. It serves 8 (be careful, I'm pretty sure I had two servings and therefore do not get to eat lunch -- but I'm still full from eating at 9 a.m., so that also speaks to the hardiness of the meal.)

I have always stayed away from traditional biscuits and gravy because -- well, it looks like milk and cereal vomit. And truth be told... this doesn't look any different, except it's not greasy, and if you make it yourself with butter, potato starch and garbanzo flour and milk you get why it's that ugly color. But at the same time, it's better if you just don't think about it too much. It's supposed to take 30 minutes or fewer, but for me having to get out anything that has to chop stuff up (food processor/blender, etc.) takes me 10 minutes because I use them so few for meals that I forget how to put them together! So I'd guess it took me more like 45-50 minutes.

X-man decided he wouldn't try either. I put the vegetables from the salad on his plate without mixing them up and gave him ranch in a small bowl to dip to try to entice him. But it was a no go. He did try one of the radishes because he said he liked them when he tried them in kindergarten. But he told me they had to be sliced not quartered. I told him tough...

So, if my kid looks like he's losing weight lately and I'm not, it's because he's choosing not to eat what I'm making, even when I do "X-man friendly sides" like corn on the cob or strawberries as his side dishes. He wouldn't even try the biscuits...